Sifted

I used to love baking with my mother as a little girl! I remember getting excited when a recipe called for sifted flour because my mother entrusted me to use our metal flour sifter. I always thought it was fun to turn the crank on the sifter which caused the flour to fall through the tiny holes. Once I sifted the flour, my mother and I used it in whatever we were baking!

Back in the day…even before I was a little girl…sifting flour served several purposes. When flour was milled using stone wheels, sifting removed bits of millstone and other impurities that might be found in the flour.

Today, the need to sift to remove impurities is greatly reduced with modern milling equipment… tighter food regulations…and higher quality control.

So why then did we still sift the flour before baking?

These recipes called for sifted flour because sifting broke up clumps and added air to the flour which made measurements more uniform and produced lighter cakes and pastries.

This memory of sifting flour came to me recently when I read the Bible passage in Luke 22:31-32 where Satan asks to sift Simon Peter as…not flour…but wheat. Jesus said…

“Simon, Simon, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat. But I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail. And when you turn back, strengthen your brother.” Luke 22:31-32 NIV

Before we dive deeper…an understanding of this process of sifting wheat is important.

There are a number of verses in the Bible that reflect this process of sifting wheat…which was actually a two-step process.

The first step involved tossing the wheat in the air to allow the chaff to blow away in the wind. Chaff is the outer shell (or husk) that must be removed to get to the valuable kernels or grain inside. Chaff was very light and carried away by even the slightest wind…while the good grain fell back to the earth.

The second step involved a sieve that would be used to separate what was valuable and useful from what was not.

In this way…the farmer cleaned the wheat and prepared it for the market. He was preparing it for a purpose.

And therefore, just like sifted flour has value and purpose in the baking process…so does sifted wheat.

When Jesus said to Simon Peter that Satan has asked to “sift you as wheat” …He was using a metaphor of faith.

Now there are some very interesting points to note from these verses. Check this out!

1.Jesus used Satan to do the sifting.

This is so significant! Satan asked Jesus to sift Peter…and Jesus agreed! Wow!

So by Satan having to ask Jesus….Jesus’s authority and power over all of heaven and earth…and Satan…are displayed. And the real kicker…

Jesus allowed Satan to sift Peter…Jesus gave Satan permission to sift Peter…even though He loved Peter!

And this is so with us as well! Jesus loves us very much but He will use Satan to sift us…He will give Satan permission to put us through trials just as He did with Peter.

But don’t lose hope! Because even though Satan’s goal is to use trials to destroy our faith…Jesus’ goal is to use the same trial to build our faith!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. James 1:2-3 NIV 

2.Jesus prayed for Peter’s faith to increase…not for the sifting to stop.

Jesus encouraged Peter by telling him… “I have prayed for you, Simon that your faith may not fail.” Why? Because Jesus believed that Peter would grow stronger having gone through this sifting…this trial.

How many times have you prayed for your trials to end…for your challenges to cease…for the sifting to stop? We all have! Right?

Jesus wants our faith to increase…our faith to stretch…our faith to grow! When we demonstrate our faith in the midst of our trials, our faith and trust will grow stronger.

Dear friends, do you think you’ll get anywhere in this if you learn all the right words but never do anything? Does merely talking about faith indicate that a person really has it? For instance, you come upon an old friend dressed in rags and half-starved and say, “Good morning, friend! Be clothed in Christ! Be filled with the Holy Spirit!” and walk off without providing so much as a coat or a cup of soup—where does that get you? Isn’t it obvious that God-talk without God-acts is outrageous nonsense? James 2:14-17 MSG

3. Jesus saw what Peter could become.

Jesus said… “And when you turn back.” Notice it said “when” not “if” Peter turns back. Jesus saw what Peter could become…not just what Peter was.

Jesus sees what we can become also. He sees what is valuable after all the chaff is destroyed.

Jesus knows our past…our present…and our future. He knows who we are right now and who we could become.

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them. Ephesians 2:10 NASB 

4. Jesus knew this sifting would equip Peter.

Jesus said that when Peter turns back to “strengthen [his] brother.”

This sifting would equip Peter to strengthen others. God allows us to face trials not only to grow our faith but to encourage others as well! There is always a purpose and it is good!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28 NLT

What better way to strengthen and encourage another Christian through a trial, than a fellow Christian who has experienced the very same trial?

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing….And we urge you, brothers and sisters, warn those who are idle and disruptive, encourage the disheartened, help the weak, be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:11, 14 NIV

How about you? Are you being sifted today? Are you facing some trials and can’t understand why?     

God allows us to go through the sifting process just like Peter.

He allows people…circumstances…and events in our lives to take place in order to sift us.

Why? For what reason was flour and/or wheat sifted?

Because once the impurities have been removed…once the chaff is blown away…there is value…there is purpose. And it can be used!

The sifting process allows God to use us. He knows the value and purpose we each have…even though we may not see it. He knows exactly what we are now…and what we will become!

 Reflection Points:

  1. What did Jesus mean by the metaphor “sifted you as wheat”?
  2. What is the process of sifting wheat?
  3. Are you being sifted today? Are you facing some trials and can’t understand why?
  4. Why are we sifted?

Action Points:

Review the 4 points that were discussed from Luke 22:31-32.

I’m Not Perfect

Reflecting back on my childhood, I can vividly remember being a perfectionist. As a young girl…everything needed to be neat and in its place….everything needed to be just right…everything had to be “perfect”!

The hangers in my closet hung exactly the same distance apart (I know…so Type A personality!)…I always stayed within the lines when coloring pictures (God forbid there be a stray mark outside the lines!)…my handwriting had to be perfect and neat when I turned in book reports for school (I could have endorsed White Out!)

As I grew up…I came to see this perfectionism progress into my adult life…as a wife…as a mother…and as a Christian.

Are you a perfectionist?

Are you always trying to be the perfect wife…the perfect mother…the perfect employee…the perfect friend…the perfect neighbor…the perfect student…the perfect family…or even the perfect Christian?

Ok so maybe you aren’t a perfectionist at all…but don’t check out on me just yet…as I believe you will gain some greater insight if you keep sticking with me here!

If you asked me why I was such a perfectionist throughout my life…I would answer… “I really don’t know why.”

My parents…family…friends…teachers…never put the expectation or the pressure on me to be perfect. There was just something in me that drove me toward perfectionism. I put that expectation on myself!

Maybe there was a deep rooted insecurity or inner fear of rejection…not measuring up…failure…even some sort of punishment…for not being perfect.

Maybe it was my need to be in control…my pursuit to gain acceptance from others…or my concern with what others thought of me.

I strove to be “perfect” in the very way we would all probably define the word “perfect.”

Webster’s Dictionary defines “perfect” as …having no mistakes or flaws; completely correct or accurate; satisfying all requirements; having all the qualities you want in that kind of person, situation, etc.

Sounds about right…I means sounds perfect! Right?

Even beginning a relationship with Jesus didn’t take away or remove this perfectionism…as I then quickly found myself striving to be the “perfect” Christian.

After all why would I change my perfectionistic mentality when now even the Bible…Jesus specifically…says I must be perfect!

You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:48 ESV

As I began to grow in my relationship with Jesus…I began to grow in grace…not just grace for others…but grace for myself.

And as I continued to study God’s Word… I gained a better Biblical perspective and understanding of what Jesus meant when He used this word “perfect.”

The word “perfect” in Matthew 5:48 comes from the Greek word “telios” which means whole… complete…mature…finished…having reached its end. It implies being fully grown or mature.

Wow! That says nothing about not making mistakes…not having flaws…or not coloring outside the lines! Certainly takes some pressure off…doesn’t it?!

This concept to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect… means we are to be “whole…complete…mature” just as Jesus is “perfect.”

Jesus was actually made “perfect” through suffering.

For in bringing many sons to glory, it was entirely appropriate that God–all things exist for Him and through Him–should make the source of their salvation perfect through sufferings. Hebrews 2:10 HCSB

Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered. And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation… Hebrews 5:8-9 NASB

Jesus completed or fulfilled God’s plan for Him as our Savior by suffering for us.

Jesus is teaching us wholeness…completeness…maturity.

So how can we be this “perfect” Christian? How can we be “whole…complete…mature” as Jesus was made “perfect”?

In Character

Character is a description of a person’s attributes…traits…or abilities; moral or ethical strength; reputation; integrity. Some would say…“Character is who you are when no one is looking.”

In this life…we cannot achieve Christ-like character in one instance or at one moment in our relationship with Jesus. We need to keep growing toward maturity in our character and aspire to be as much like Christ as possible.   

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect [complete] it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 NASB

We are all in process… and building character is a life-long process! 

In Holiness

Holiness is the state of being consecrated or set apart for sacred use; living a life dedicated and devoted to the service of God.

But like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.” 1Peter 1:15-16 NASB

We need to separate ourselves from the world’s sinful values. We should to be devoted to God’s desires rather than our own…and carry His love and mercy into the world.

Our tendency to sin should not deter us from striving to be more like Christ.

Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Ephesians 5:1 NLT

In Love

Love is a purposeful commitment to sacrificial action for another.

When Jesus said…You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect…He was saying…”Let your love be complete as God’s love.”

God acts with concern and love for all people. If we must be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect…we will act with positive good will toward both good…and evil people. If we only love those who love us…but do not love our enemies…we are really no better than evil people…for even evil people are capable of loving those who love them!

If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much. Matthew 5:46 NLT

God loves all people…even people who are evil. We can be as “perfect” as our God when we love this way.

But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:44-45a NLT             

Our love for people needs to grow and mature…which includes loving our enemies. If we do not love our enemies…we are not acting as true children of our Father in heaven.

Today…I am not the perfect wife…I am not the perfect mother…I am not the perfect Christian…And that’s ok!

Neither should you be! In whatever or  wherever you strive to be perfect!

Strive for progress…not perfection.

In the Biblical sense…we should be progressing toward wholeness…completeness…maturity.

We should be aspiring to be more like Christ…

Progressing to maturity in character…holiness…and love…

Striving for excellence…not the expectation of “perfection” that we place upon ourselves.

Strive for excellence, not perfection, because we don’t live in a perfect world. Joyce Meyer

Be encouraged today that we don’t need to place the expectation of perfection upon ourselves…that we will make mistakes…we will fail…we will color outside the lines…because only Jesus was perfect…and is perfect.

He was the “perfect” sacrifice!

And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation… Hebrews 5:9 NASB

Reflection Points: 

  1. Are you a perfectionist? Are you always trying to be the perfect wife…the perfect mother…the perfect employee…the perfect friend…the perfect neighbor…the perfect student…the perfect family?
  2. What drives you to perfection?
  3. Do you strive to be a “perfect” Christian?
  4. What does the Jesus say about being “perfect”?
  5. What is the biblical meaning of the word “perfect” and even more specifically in Matthew 5:48?
  6. Are you striving to be “perfect” in Christ-like character…holiness…and love? If so, how?

Action Points: 

  1. If you are a perfectionist…pray and ask the Lord why you are driven to be perfect. There could be an underlying fear or insecurity that drives you to be perfect. Pray and ask Him to help you overcome this underlying reason…to increase your faith…and to strengthen you. (2Timothy 1:7)
  2. God does not call us to perfection…as our general understanding of this word. He expects us to make mistakes…and to fail. (Romans 3:23) He calls us to be “perfect” biblically. He calls us to wholeness…completeness…and maturity…which is a life long process!
  3. We can be perfect, as [our] heavenly Father is perfect…by aspiring to be more like Christ and progressing toward maturity in character…holiness…and love.
  4. You can’t become more like Christ if you don’t get to know Him! We can get to know Him better by spending time in prayer and studying His Word. It’s also important to evaluate the people we surround ourselves with. Are they drawing you closer to God…or pulling you away?      

 

Kicking Against the Goads

When my husband Billy came home from work the other day…I asked him the same question I ask him every day when he comes home… “How was your day?” He usually responds with a simple “Good!” …with really no explanation or elaboration.

Not surprising at all since…in general…men speak in headlines…while women speak in paragraphs! Us women sure love to expand and elaborate with more details…don’t we?!

And I did say…“in general”… because there are certainly some exceptions out there.

On this particular day…however… my interest was peaked as Billy didn’t share his usual “Good!” …but instead shared with me that it was a challenging day at work for him.

He began to explain to me that a new employee that he works with was…“kicking against the goads!”

Now…I don’t know about you…but…“kicking against the goads” isn’t a normal phrase that comes up in everyday conversation!

I looked at him blankly but with a heightened curiosity… “Ok what exactly do you mean by that?”

He went on to explain that his new co-worker was complaining about the way things were going at work.

Billy explained to him that the organization they work for has the current system and programs set into motion for a reason. And as employees…we are to follow what has been put into place and not fight against it with complaints.

Not that its dictatorship or anything…because there certainly is a time and place for new ideas to be implemented…but more importantly…Billy shared with his coworker…is following what our bosses tell us…instead of fighting against it and complaining!

It’s important that we aren’t “kicking against the goads!”

Now what exactly does this mean? And…as Christians…how is this term relevant to us?

“Kicking against the goads” is actually a biblical expression and refers to the account of the conversion of Saul to Paul in Acts 26.

We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, ‘Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’ Acts 26:14 NIV

Some bible translations actually say… “It is hard for you to kick against the pricks

“It is hard for you to kick against the pricks” is a proverb that was used often by both Latin and Greek writers. The word for “pricks” in the Greek is kentron… which means a “point” or “goad.”

A goad is a stick with a pointed piece of iron fastened to the end of it. It was used to prod the oxen on when farmers plowed. When a stubborn ox attempted to kick back against the goads (pricks)… the goad would stab into the flesh of its leg. The more the oxen kicked…the more he would actually wound himself …thereby causing greater pain.

Many of you may be familiar with the initial account of Saul’s conversion on the road to Damascus in Acts 9:5. Interestingly…the expression about “kicking against the goads” doesn’t appear until this story of Saul’s conversion is shared with King Agrippa in Acts 26:12-18.

To summarize…

Saul was rebelling against God. God had been trying to urge him to go in a certain direction…but Saul was resisting against God and against His ways.

And as a result…Saul was hurting others… and he was also hurting himself.

Remember Saul persecuted Christians! And furthermore…he didn’t just persecute Christians…he actually persecuted Christ!

His self-righteousness and zeal became uncontrolled as he captured Christians…followers of Jesus…chained them and brought them back to Jerusalem for punishment. Consequently…many Christians died.

As Saul was nearing Damascus on his mission…the Lord met him and blinded him with a bright shining light from heaven.

12On one of these journeys I was going to Damascus with the authority and commission of the chief priests. 13About noon, King Agrippa, as I was on the road, I saw a light from heaven, brighter than the sun, blazing around me and my companions. 14We all fell to the ground, and I heard a voice saying to me in Aramaic, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

15Then I asked, “Who are you, Lord?”

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” the Lord replied. 16 “Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. 17I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them 18to open their eyes and turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”

So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today?

Now of course you aren’t persecuting Christians like Saul…but are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

Maybe your “kicking against the goads” is not so obvious…

Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word?

Sexual immorality…unforgiveness…anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

Ok…maybe it’s even less obvious…

How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words? Are they Christ-like?

Whether you are a new Christian or have been a Christian for years…we all sin! …myself included!

Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

Saul…in resisting the teachings of Jesus…was “kicking against the goads.” He was fighting against Jesus…who would be the greatest authority on earth. Saul’s resistance actually resulted in greater suffering…demonstrating the lesson intended by the proverb.

This example of kicking against the goads was used to teach the lesson that it was foolish to rebel against God-given authority…and any attempt to do so would simply result in much greater distress and discomfort.

Just like the stubborn ox…the more a stubborn ox kicks back against the goads… the greater the pain.

The more we “kick against the goads” …the greater the distress…discomfort…and pain we ultimately experience and cause ourselves.

I will leave you with this…

It’s always important as Christians to do a self-examination and we can begin by praying Psalm 139:23-24 to God.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

 

Reflection Points:

1.So how about you? Are you “kicking against the goads” today? Are you “kicking against the goads” …resisting God and/or His commands today?

2. Is there an area of your life God is wanting you to change…or turn away from? An area of sin that goes against God and His Word? Ie. Sexual immorality… unforgiveness… anger…bitterness…lying…cheating…gossip…pride… jealousy?

3. How about your attitude…your thoughts…your spoken words?

Action Points:

1.God’s desire for us is that we obey Him and His commands. This pleases Him and shows our love to Him.

If you love me, you will obey my commandments. John 14:15 NET 

Loving God means keeping his commandments, and his commandments are not burdensome. 1 John 5:3 NL

2. Pray and ask God to show you any areas that you may be “kicking against the goads” if it isn’t obvious or clear to you.

Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting. Psalm 139:23-24 NIV

3. Whatever area we may struggle in…it’s so important that we stop “kicking against the goads” …turn away (repent)…turn to God…ask for forgiveness…and pray for God’s strength!

Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord… Acts 3:19 NIV

And of course there are benefits to obeying God…We receive protection…favor…promotion…blessings…not just in heaven but here on earth as well!

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11:28 NIV

 

 

 

 

Faith…Like Rhoda!

I just saw the movie “Do You Believe” last weekend and really enjoyed it! I am no movie buff…but you really gotta see it…That’s all I can say!

If I can sum up this movie with one word…Perspective! Without revealing too much in case you plan on seeing it… Let me just say…it “recalibrated” me.

There was the cutest little girl named Lilly in the movie whose character truly stole my heart! At such a young age she demonstrated such a great faith in Jesus…a faith we may consider is a child-like faith…a faith we actually can all learn from.

I know what you may be thinking…because I am thinking the same thing!

I am a grown woman with 2 young children…what can I possibly learn from a child? I mean as the parent…I am the one teaching them…right? I am the one with more life experience…more wisdom…more understanding…right?

So what exactly is this child-like faith?

Well…this term is actually not mentioned in the Bible…However, this concept of child-like faith can be seen if we take a closer look.

There is a seemingly insignificant young girl mentioned very briefly in the Bible…so briefly that you just might miss her…who demonstrates this child-like faith.

Rhoda… Have you heard of Rhoda?

And I don’t mean the TV series “Rhoda” that aired from 1974-1978. Not that I watched it or anything…since I was only a young girl. No need to age myself here!

Let me share just a little about Rhoda…and literally “little” as only a few bible verses mention her.

Check out this passage in Acts 12:11-17.

11Then Peter came to himself and said, “Now I know without a doubt that the Lord has sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were hoping would happen.”

12When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. 13Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. 14When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!”

15“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.”

16But Peter kept on knocking, and when they opened the door and saw him, they were astonished. 17Peter motioned with his hand for them to be quiet and described how the Lord had brought him out of prison. “Tell James and the other brothers and sisters about this,” he said, and then he left for another place. NIV

Some background information may give us a better understanding as we are brought to this passage in Acts 12:12.

About 10 years after the death of Jesus Christ…King Herod Agrippa 1 had the apostle James beheaded and he put Peter in prison. Agrippa had planned on putting Peter on trial. (Acts 12:1-4)

But the night before the public trial…an angel appeared in Peter’s cell. Without disturbing the guards…the angel woke Peter. The chains fell off Peter’s wrists and the angel led Peter out of prison!

Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. Acts 12:7 NIV

Peter wasn’t sure that what the angel was doing was really happening since he thought he was having a vision. Once on the street…the angel left him. Then it dawned on Peter that he wasn’t having a dream! …He was really free! …Peter’s first thought was to go to Mary’s home.

When this had dawned on him, he went to the house of Mary the mother of John, also called Mark, where many people had gathered and were praying. Acts 12:12

Mary was the mother of John Mark and an early believer in Christ. Her home was a gathering place for church members. Members were there that night praying for Peter’s release because they were probably holding an all-night prayer meeting.

Mary’s home was fairly spacious and the house had an outer courtyard door…an outer entrance…which faced the street. The door did not have a window or peep hole…and therefore it was only opened when someone inside the home recognized the knocker’s voice.

Peter knocked at the outer entrance, and a servant girl named Rhoda came to answer the door. Acts 12:13

And it is here that we first hear about Rhoda!

Rhoda was a servant in Mary’s household. She was called a girl and therefore was about 10-12 years old. Because she was assigned to opening the outer door of the house…she more than likely had to be conscientious and sensible. Rhoda’s job was to discern who to let in and who to contact the owner before admitting.

Now we can probably assume that Rhoda wasn’t about to open the door in the middle of the night and so she probably asked a question like “Who’s there?”

When Peter identified himself…Rhoda recognized his voice. In her joy…Rhoda forgot to open the door! (Pretty funny! Huh?) Instead she ran back to the praying group and said, “Peter is at the door!”

Let’s pause here for a second… In the early church, slaves and/or servants worshiped jointly with owners and other free men. Now Rhoda had no doubt listened to the preaching of Peter on many occasions. She understood the connection between prayer…faith…and receiving. (Matthew 21:22)

When she recognized Peter’s voice, she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening it and exclaimed, “Peter is at the door!” Acts 12:14

Rhoda knew Peter’s voice. She was so excited that Peter was free that she wanted everyone in Mary’s house to know.

Child-like Faith Attribute One… Rhoda believed in this moment that the prayers of the people were answered!

Child-like Faith Attribute Two… Rhoda believed it was Peter without visual confirmation!

But check out everyone’s response!

“You’re out of your mind,” they told her. When she kept insisting that it was so, they said, “It must be his angel.” Acts 12:15

The early church believed that everyone has a personal angel who ministered to them. (Hebrews 1:14) So when Rhoda insisted that Peter was at the door…the members declared that it wasn’t Peter but his angel.

Child-like Faith Attribute Three… Rhoda’s faith was not shaken by everyone’s response. She stood firm and insisted that it was Peter!

Although young and probably lacking life experience…Rhoda simply believed that God answered prayers.

She had no problem believing that Peter…not his ministering angel…was at the door. And this child-like faith resulted in her persisting to tell the church that Peter was there.

How is your faith today…in whatever you are believing God for?

Do you have child-like faith today…like Rhoda?

Rhoda truly exemplifies this concept of child-like faith.

Child-like faith believes in the outcome of prayer that God answers prayers…not in spending time pondering reasons why God can’t or won’t answer them. The people reasoned that it was an angel…not Peter. (Acts 12:15)

Child-like faith believes without visual confirmation…not waiting to see before you believe. The people opened the door and saw Peter…then they believed. (Acts 12:16)

Child-like faith is persistent and firm…not easily shaken when other’s tell you otherwise. Rhoda stood firm in her faith regardless of what everyone was saying and believing. (Acts 12:15)

We can see from Rhoda’s example how this child-like faith concept can certainly help us grow in our faith. Many times as adults we tend to reason and think ourselves out of our faith. It’s almost as if we know too much in our heads.

My prayer for you and me is to demonstrate this child-like faith in whatever we are believing God for in our lives. Because ultimately…it is faith that pleases God! (Hebrews 11:6)

Reflection Points:

  1. What you are believing God for today?
  2. How is your faith today?
  3. Do you believe God can answer your prayers?
  4. Do you need to see before you believe?
  5. Is your faith shaken because of the beliefs of others or the circumstances that surround you?
  6. Do you have child-like faith today?

Action Points:

  1. Review above what child-like faith is…
  2. Child-like faith believes in the outcome of prayer that God answers prayers…not in spending time pondering reasons why God can’t or won’t answer them. Remember that God is willing and able and He hears all your prayers! (1John 5:14)
  3. Child-like faith believes without visual confirmation…not waiting to see before you believe.We need to walk by faith and not by sight. (2Corinthians 5:7) Faith doesn’t come from seeing…it comes from hearing God’s word. (Romans 10:17)
  4. Child-like faith is persistent and firm…not easily shaken when other’s tell you otherwise. (1Corinthians 16:13, 1Peter 5:9) There is a great story of persistent faith in the Bible. (Luke 18:1-8)

 

 

 

 

The Veil Was Torn!

With Easter quickly approaching us, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have flooded the displays at the local grocery and craft stores. And how about the ridiculous assortment of candy from jelly beans….to chocolate eggs and bunnies…to marshmallow peeps? …Leaving my 2 little boys salivating and quite impatient for their Easter Egg Hunt at their school! And my ever-increasing quest of decreasing their sugar in-take is challenged once again!

With Good Friday and Easter coming up this weekend, many will be flooding into churches to reflect and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as this Easter holiday is the very reason we as Christians can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.

While listening to the radio this week, I heard a beautiful song that was sung at my wedding called “At the Cross” by Hillsong. And I noticed that many songs by very talented and gifted musical artists as Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder Band and Chris Tomlin have written and produced songs reflecting the very pain and suffering…the shedding of blood…that Jesus endured and experienced for us. And many of these songs have also included the line “the veil was torn” in their lyrics.

These words actually come from the Bible scripture in Matthew 27:50-51.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51 NASB

I believe an understanding of these scriptures can help us further appreciate what Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection represents for us today.

The mere fact that the scriptures record the occurrence of this veil being torn at the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath of life…releasing His spirit… certainly demonstrates something quite significant.! And most likely why it has been included in so many Christian artists’ lyrics too! Don’t you think?

What does “the veil was torn” really mean and why is it so important for us to understand its significance? And is there significance in the fact that the veil was torn in two from top to bottom?

Before we can grasp what the veil being torn symbolizes…we need to explore the purpose and background of this temple veil.

During Jesus’ lifetime, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship was followed faithfully…according to the Law of Moses.

In the temple, a veil…sometimes called a temple curtain…separated the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. (Hebrews 9:19) The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind and therefore marked the boundary between God’s holiness and the wickedness of mankind. It was not possible to go beyond the veil because our sins have separated us from a Holy God.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 NASB

Because man was separated from God by sin…only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place [Holy of Holies], and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

Atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.”

At the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath, the temple veil was torn. So what is the significance of the veil being torn?

The veil being torn symbolized that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice…the shedding of His own blood…was sufficient atonement for man’s sins…forever!

Furthermore, the fact that the veil was torn from top to bottom was also significant. Why?
Well, first of all, this temple veil or curtain was not a simple curtain you would hang above your window in your home. This temple veil was 60ft long and 30ft wide and was one inch thick! It was so massive that it took 300 priests to manipulate it!

Therefore, no one could simply tear the veil themselves! It would take more than human strength to tear it.

The analogy is that it took the mighty hand of God Himself to tear it supernaturally. And this tearing which represents the removal of the separation of God and man could not be done by humans. It had to be done by God alone…and that’s why it is so significant!

No one can remove our separation from God but God Himself!

He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2 NLT

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

The fact the veil was torn in two from top to bottom…which stood some 60ft from the floor where humans clearly could not reach it…shows that God was the One that caused the veil to be torn. He was the initiator of the veil being torn.

The significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom and just the fact that it was torn is that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for us to come to God our Father. Our sins no longer separate us from Him.

On Good Friday at approximately 3pm, Jesus took His last drink…spoke His last words…and breathed his last breath. He gave up His spirit that day and the veil was torn.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV

Jesus Christ through His death…removed the barriers between God and man…and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness!

Jesus Christ through His resurrection…destroyed the power of death…and now we as Christians may receive forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life!

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV

As we reflect and celebrate this Easter weekend, my prayer and hope is for us to not only gain a greater perspective as Christians in understanding the significance of the “veil [being] torn” but also that many others who don’t even have a relationship with Jesus will come to him and accept Him as their Lord and Savior!

Let’s all come together in prayer that God will begin moving on the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus today in our communities…in our country…in our world!

Happy Easter! Thank you so much everyone for your continued support of Sweeter Than Honey Blog!

 

 

 

Fruit of the Spirit

As a mother of 2 energetic boys…Connor 6 and Bryce 4…I find myself…on a daily basis… finding ways for them to exert their energy! Like playing kick ball on the street…hitting tennis balls off a tee…or heading to a nearby playground or park with a splash pad.

When my boys do not have this outlet…for boys to just be boys…to go run…jump… play…collect bugs…explore the outdoors…they drive me bonkers and I find my patience tested!

God forbid we have rainy day here in Arizona and we get cooped up in the house all day! Playing board games indoors like Candyland…Trouble…and Sorry only go so far!

And so when my patience is tested I find myself asking God to give me patience…because there are certainly days I feel that I have absolutely no patience! Have you had any of those days?

I can laugh…for a minute at least…as I am reminded of the lines from the movie Evan Almighty…where Morgan Freeman who plays God asks…

“Let me ask you something. If someone prays for patience, you think God gives them patience? Or does He give them the opportunity to be patient?”

And then reality sets in that God has given me yet another opportunity to grow in patience when my boys are wrestling each other on the family room floor!

As Christians…we may all be familiar with patience being a fruit of the Spirit in the Bible.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Galatians 5:22-23 NASB

The “fruit of the Spirit” is a biblical term that sums up the nine visible attributes of a true Christian life.

I have always found it interesting that the scripture says “fruit” and not “fruits.” Have you ever wondered that?

And there are some scholars and commentaries that may actually refer to the ‘fruits” rather than “fruit” of the Spirit. However, we can see clearly from this scripture that the singular “fruit” is used.

I do personally believe…and others may beg to differ… this is significant because the original Greek term translated as “fruit” is singular signifying that there is one fruit with nine attributes. And thus…I believe these are not individual “fruits” from which we can pick and choose.

For instance, an apple may have the following attributes: red…round… sweet… edible…seeded…juicy. But it is still an apple…one apple with these 6 attributes.

So the “fruit of the Spirit” is one “fruit” of the Spirit with nine attributes.

And even more importantly…we must understand that as Christians…we all have the fruit of the Spirit available to us! We don’t have to ask God for patience…or love…or joy…or peace…etc. because we already have it in us!

When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!

And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.

Because ultimately, Jesus commands us to produce fruit.

When you produce much fruit, you are my true disciples. This brings great glory to my Father. John 15:8 NLT

So are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most?

Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace?

Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness?

Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

We all have fruit of the Spirit attributes to further develop and grow. Uuugh…patience and self- control our certainly my big ones! And after reading further…I can probably add more to my list!

Check out each of these attributes and do a self-examination to determine which attributes you may need to further develop and grow.

Love

Dear children let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. 1John 3:18 NIV

Is your love unconditional? Or is your love most evident when everything goes your way?

This type of fruit keeps on loving even when it’s difficult to show affection to others. The capacity to love grows out of the agape love…the selfless, sacrificial, and unconditional love…from the heavenly Father.

Joy

For the joy of the Lord is your strength. Nehemiah 8:10 NIV

Can you have joy in the midst of difficult circumstances? Or is your joy based upon a false joy that is found in people…places…possessions…positions…or personalities?

Not that anyone of us should be joyful about the hard times, but rather our joy comes from God who is with us…in it and through it. God uses every trial to help us become stronger in the faith.

Peace

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-8 NIV

Are you consumed with anxiety and worry when everything falls apart? Or can you rest in God’s peace?

There is no peace for the wicked (Isaiah 48:2). But for us as Christians…it is available every time we pray and leave our concerns with God.

Patience

Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience. Colossians 1:1NIV

Can you be still and wait on God? Or are you tempted to always move ahead so you can stay in control?

Patience is a fruit that will grow with your experience of being stretched in faith especially in times of trial.  Forbearance is another word for patience…We don’t have to pray for patience…it’s there already!

Kindness

A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people. 2 Timothy 2:24 NIV

Do others sense your kindness in words and actions? Or are they more accustomed to your angry response?

A gentle word…soft answer…or a helping hand…all demonstrate the fruit of kindness in our culture of unfortunate rudeness and selfishness.

Goodness

Dear friend, do not imitate what is evil but what is good. Anyone who does what is good is from God. Anyone who does what is evil has not seen God. 3 John 11NIV

Are your conversations marked with genuine virtue and honor? Or is your conversation tainted with worldly language…immoral tendencies…or gossip?

Goodness doesn’t mean that we are perfect…but rather someone who sincerely reflects the integrity of God within. A Christian who demonstrates the fruit of goodness has the tendency to believe the best about people.

Faithfulness

Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful. 1 Corinthians 4:2 NIV

Does your reputation reflect dependability and steadfastness in the faith? Or do people expect you to be late…undependable…or irresponsible?

Our faithfulness represents God’s Spirit dwelling within. Those who cultivate the fruit of faithfulness are compelled to complete every good work for His glory.

Gentleness

Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5NIV

Is your gentle and meek spirit felt around those who live or work with you? Or do they feel that you are a hard and legalistic person to deal with?

A spirit of gentleness gives grace freely…and consistently. Believers and unbelievers should feel at ease around us because of our presence of gentleness.

Self-Control

For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age. Titus 2:11-12 NIV

Do you control your appetites? Or do they control you?

Christians can demonstrate a life of self-control and discipline in a world where every day is an opportunity to allow our flesh to take control. We have the power through the Spirit to control our worldly desires and actions.

Did you take note of any attributes that you struggle with? What may be hindering you from growing and maturing in these areas?

On our own…we will all struggle…I struggle!

But be encouraged! …Because we have been given the supernatural ability to overcome by the Holy Spirit! If the Holy Spirit planted the seed in us then He will certainly empower and strengthen us to grow and mature!

And furthermore…the growing of the fruit is not a passive process but an active one. We cannot do nothing and just expect the seed that is in us to grow!

Yes…we must abide in Jesus as John 15:5 says…But many of the nine attributes are listed elsewhere in the Bible as commands from God that we are to “do”!

We are commanded to “love.” (Matthew 22:37-39)… “be joyful” (1 Thessalonians 5:16)… “pursue peace” (2 Timothy 2:22)… “walk with patience” (Ephesians 4:2)… “clothe ourselves with kindness” (Colossians 3:12)… “do good to all men” (Galatians 6:10)… “stand fast in faith” (1Corinthians 16:13)… “show gentleness” (Titus 3:2)… “have self-control” (1 Corinthians 9:25-27).

These are all active commands for us to grow the seed that is planted in us…to grow the fruit of the Spirit to maturity.

If you notice the fruit of the Spirit begins with Love and ends with Self-control.

Evangelist and Bible teacher Joyce Meyer has an interesting perspective. She says…

[Love and Self-Control are like bookends. All the fruit of the Spirit comes out of love. You can’t have joy…peace…patience…etc without love. And all this is held in place by self-control.] Paraphrased

Whenever we have those days where we feel we have no patience…or whatever area we may be struggling with…we need to remind ourselves that we can’t do it in our strength. We need to continue pushing through and rely on the strength of the Holy Spirit!

The more we draw near to God…praying and reflecting on His Word…the more we will experience the fruit of the Spirit in our life.

We aren’t perfect and we never will be…but we can certainly grow and mature in the fruit of the Spirit.

Reflection Points:

  1. Do you find yourself asking God to give you patience…or joy…or kindness…or self-control, etc?
  2. Do you understand that as Christians we are actually given the nine attributes of the fruit of the Spirit? So we already have it!
  3. Are you producing much fruit? Which attributes do you struggle with most? What may be hindering you from developing and growing the seed that is planted in you?
  4. Do you struggle with love…joy…or peace? Do you struggle with patience…kindness…goodness? Do you struggle with faithfulness…gentleness…or self-control?

Action Points:

  1. When we give our life to Jesus…the fruit of the Spirit…all nine attributes… are planted inside us in seed form. We are given the fruit of the Spirit…by the Holy Spirit!
  2. And so although we don’t need to ask God specifically for these nine attributes…what we may need to ask for is a greater yield of this fruit on a daily basis…or determine what may be hindering the seed planted in us from further growing.
  3. God commands us to produce fruit. Read through each attribute listed and see which areas you may need a greater yield of in your life.
  4. Growing and maturing the seed that has been planted in us requires first and foremost that we are abiding in God and His Word. We will further mature as we pray and read God’s word on a daily basis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4 Seasons

Growing up as a child back East…I was very accustomed to the 4 seasons…Spring…Summer …Autumn…and Winter.

I have sweet memories of experiencing and enjoying each season as it came …and always anticipating the excitement of the next season as one season ended and another began.

Having lived in Arizona for the last 15 years…I can say that even though we do have 4 seasons…many people would claim that we only have 2 seasons…hot and hotter!

There are certainly great benefits of living in Arizona and having warmer weather pretty much year round…but unfortunately we don’t experience the 4 seasons and the unique characteristics that depict each season as in other parts of the country.

And for some of you shoveling snow right now…you are probably thinking how you could care less about experiencing the unique characteristics of each season…like snow in the winter!

As we know…seasons are periods of the year that are typically marked by their own particular weather conditions and temperatures… depending on the part of the country you live in.

And whether we like one season over another season…God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day of creation and determined…according to His sovereignty…when one season ends and another begins. After all, He is the creator of time…and seasons.

Then God said, “Let lights appear in the sky to separate the day from the night. Let them be signs to mark the seasons, days, and years. Genesis 1:14 NLT

Just as Spring…Summer…Autumn…and Winter mark the 4 seasons…we as Christians experience these 4 seasons…spiritual seasons…in our lives as well.

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven… Ecclesiastes 3:1KJV

A characterization of each season is important in understanding just how these seasons correlate into our lives as Christians.

Spring is characterized by more daylight…moderate temperatures…and plants beginning or resuming growing.

Summer is characterized by the most daylight…warmer temperatures (Hotter than hot temps in AZ!)…and plants growing and maturing.

Autumn is characterized by daylight lessoning…moderate to cooler temperatures…and plants mature and beginning to go dormant.

Winter is characterized by less daylight…colder temperatures…and most plants either die or go dormant.

These 4 physical seasons can be correlated to 4 spiritual seasons in our spiritual walk as well as in our current circumstances.

Spring Season

Are you in a Spring season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are beginning to grow and bloom in Spring…we too may be beginning to experience a great hunger and desire to grow in our relationship with God…whether we are a new Christian or not.

Or maybe we are beginning a new season…a new chapter…in our lives…

Or maybe a new thing is sprouting up…like a new phase of parenting…or a new job…or a new vision for our lives.

For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland. The wild animals in the fields will thank me, the jackals and owls, too, for giving them water in the desert. Yes, I will make rivers in the dry wasteland so my chosen people can be refreshed. Isaiah 43:19-20 NLT

The temperatures of your life are nice and fairly mild in Spring as you may feel a new freshness in your life!

Summer Season

Are you in a Summer season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers are maturing in the Summer…we too are experiencing greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God.

And just as the temperatures in Summer are the hottest…sometimes the heat in our lives is turned up too!

We may be experiencing greater pressures…greater challenges…greater struggles in this season of our life…we may feel like we are literally going through the fire!

For he will be like a blazing fire that refines metal, or like a strong soap that bleaches clothes. He will sit like a refiner of silver, burning away the dross. He will purify the Levites, refining them like gold and silver, so that they may once again offer acceptable sacrifices to the LORD. Malachi 3:3 NLT

But it is in this fire…it is in this heat…that we experience greater growth and maturity in our relationship with God!

Why? Because the challenges and pressures and struggles in our lives push us to seek God even more than ever! These challenges…pressures…struggles push us to rely on His strength…not ours!

9 But He said to me, My grace (My favor and loving-kindness and mercy) is enough for you [sufficient against any danger and enables you to bear the trouble manfully]; for My strength and power are made perfect (fulfilled and completed) and show themselves most effective in [your] weakness. Therefore, I will all the more gladly glory in my weaknesses and infirmities, that the strength and power of Christ (the Messiah) may rest (yes, may pitch a tent over and dwell) upon me! 2 Corinthians 12:9 AMP

The temperatures of your life may certainly be hot in Summer…but God…as the Refiner…is sitting in the heat with you…every step of the way!

Autumn Season

Are you in an Autumn season?

Just as trees and plants and flowers have matured and their fruits are harvested in Autumn…we too may be experiencing a harvest in our lives.

We are reaping the benefits of spending time with God…praying and studying God’s Word. We are reaping the benefits of leaning on God and trusting Him. The benefits of spending time with Him is evident as our faith in God has grown stronger and we finally experience peace and joy in our lives.

I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you’re joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. John 15:5 MSG

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Galatians 5:22 NIV

We may have also put in a lot of time…energy…and efforts in certain areas of our lives…like marriage…relationships…physical well-being…jobs…and are now seeing the fruits of our labor!

You will enjoy the fruit of your labor. How joyful and prosperous you will be! Psalm 128:2 NLT

The temperatures of your life may be more pleasant…moderate to cool…in Autumn as you see God’s faithfulness in your life after you have sowed and sowed and sowed!

Winter Season

Are you in a Winter season?

Just like the trees and plants and flowers die or are dormant in the Winter…we too may be experiencing a death…the passing of a loved one…the end of a career or job…the end of a marriage or relationship.

Maybe you are experiencing a dormancy…an inactivity…in your relationship with God or in your prayers to God.

Maybe you have put forth a lot of time…energy…efforts towards a relationship…new job…or treatment for an illness…and just don’t see anything happening…

You have prayed and petitioned…you have trusted and believed in God… and haven’t yet received any answers.

Be encouraged in this Winter season!

God knows the seeds that are lying dormant underground in the stillness and cold of Winter. He knows…He sees…What you do not!

I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” God’s Decree.

“For as the sky soars high above earth, so the way I work surpasses the way you work and the way I think is beyond the way you think.

Just as rain and snow descend from the skies and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth, doing their work of making things grow and blossom, producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry, So will the words that come out of my mouth not come back empty-handed. They’ll do the work I sent them to do, they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.” Isaiah 55:8-11 MSG

The temperatures in your life are cold…and silent in Winter…but remember God is all-knowing and all-powerful and all-present…and He is always on time!

It doesn’t matter whether your current physical season corresponds with your current spiritual season because…

More importantly…remember that God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons!

Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!

We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!

So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord. And the Lord–who is the Spirit–makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. 2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT

And to drive this point even further…check this out!

In case you didn’t know, many scholars have researched that numbers in the bible are symbolic and have relevance. There is biblical significance in the number 4.

The number 4 means earthly completeness in form or function…it denotes creative works and always has reference to the material creation…as pertaining to the earth…things “under the sun” …and things terrestrial.

It is not coincidental that God created the 4 seasons on the 4th day! The physical universe was set into motion and created on the 4th day of creation. Interestingly…

There are 4 elements: earth…air…fire…and water.

There are 4 corners (directions) of the earth: north…south…east…and west.

Even the 4th Commandment in Exodus 20:8…Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy…. is a statement of God’s resting from His creative work. The Sabbath is commanded for His creatures to rest…enjoy Him…and glorify Him.

God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!

Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:4 NIV

When we understand God’s ultimate purpose to make us mature…complete…and not lacking anything in these changing seasons…we can push through the difficult seasons of life and find joy and peace in the good seasons of life!

Reflection Points:

  1. What season are you in spiritually?
  2. What is God’s ultimate purpose in the changing seasons?
  3. Does knowing God’s plan and purpose help you to push through the difficult seasons in your life?

Action Points:

  1. God created seasons to change! Just like the physical seasons change…so it is with our spiritual seasons! Whether we are in a good season or difficult season…whether we like it or not…God is in complete control!
  2. We will all experience these 4 seasons…We will all experience Spring…Summer… Autumn… and Winter spiritually in our lives. We must stay the course and embrace the changing seasons because change means transformation. And we are being transformed to look more and more like Christ!
  3. God is a purposeful God…nothing is formed or created by accident! Just like Him creating the 4 physical seasons is a sign of completeness in His physical creation…Him allowing us to experience all 4 spiritual seasons in our lives is a pathway and sign of completeness in Him!