Who Are You…Really?

After grad school, I was determined to find a job as an athletic trainer in professional baseball. I was so determined that I sent my resume to every professional baseball organization whether they had a job opening or not!

Soon after I sent my resume out, I received many letters back from these organizations stating that they had no job positions open. Funny though…these letters that were sent back were addressed to me as Mr. Taleen….instead of Miss Taleen!

You see I was trying to break into a very male-dominated field…having a woman athletic trainer in professional baseball was unheard of! These organizations saw my name…had no clue I was a woman…and just assumed I was a man. I even had one organization call me for an interview and ask to speak with Mr. Taleen… How quickly their tone on the phone changed from enthusiasm to disappointment upon the discovery that I was a woman!  FYI…I didn’t get that job.

After all my efforts and determination, I actually did get a job offer and worked for the Chicago Cubs professional baseball organization for 3 years. Because it was very uncommon for a woman to have this job position in professional baseball, I had multiple TV interviews and newspapers contacting me to do stories about being a woman in this male-dominated field.

And while I was breaking these barriers, my goals of being the first woman in my position to hopefully move up to the Major League level began to define me. I found value in the attention I received and the accomplishments I was achieving. I was a woman breaking the barriers in a male dominated field. That’s who I was…

So what about you? Who are you? Who are you …really?

Are you really the person that people think you are? Are you really the person that you think you are?

Where do you find your identity?

Our identity is…what defines us…what gives us our value…what gives us our worth.

Oftentimes, we find our identity in our jobs/occupations (like I did)…in our accomplishments and achievements (like I did)…in our material possessions…in social media…in who others think we are…and even in who you think you are!

In addition…as women…we can base our identity and value on certain roles and tasks that we do…for instance, our role as a wife or a mother. And we can evaluate our worth as a woman against how well we perform those tasks.

We may compare ourselves with others…judging our performance against others’ performance. If we are doing well relative to others, we feel good about ourselves …but if we aren’t…we often feel like a failure.

I have experienced this personally as a mother. It’s easy to compare yourself to other mothers and think… “Wow, she is so patient with her children! I can’t do that!” or “Wow, she is such a good mother…her children are so well-behaved!”

In Luke 10:38-42 we find the story of Jesus visiting his friends…2 sisters named Mary and Martha. And it is in this passage that we will see how one of these women struggled with her identity.

38 As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. 40 But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!”

41 “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “You are worried and upset about many things, 42 but few things are needed—or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.” NIV

Now it may not seem so obvious but Martha…although she had been touched by the love of Jesus… believes her significance and value are found in doing…doing many things…making preparations like cooking and cleaning!

The key to seeing Martha’s identity crisis is actually found in Luke 10:40. Martha shows frustration not only in the fact that her sister Mary is not helping her but also in that Jesus doesn’t seem to care or recognize all that she is doing!

And to top it off, Jesus commends her sister Mary for choosing to do what is better!

Can you imagine how Martha felt? She was cooking and cleaning and making preparations. She was serving Jesus!

Even though what Martha was doing was certainly honorable,  Jesus had to remind her of something that can easily be forgotten in the midst of our busy lives…our value…our worth…our identity…are not determined on how we behave or perform on a daily basis.

Our value and identity are not based on what we have done…or will do…but on who we are in Christ. Our identity in Christ is a gift of God’s grace…not a standing we can earn by hard work and good intentions.

Your identity is in this constant state of chaos and change and influenced sometimes positively and sometimes negatively. What this leads to is a very inconsistent emotional and spiritual life. These are the things that may explain you, but they do not define you. Mark Driscoll

Our identity is in Christ and who He says we are!

So who exactly does Christ say we are?

Well, for starters, we were bought at a price! (1 Corinthians 6:20) What price? At the price of the blood of Christ being shed…At the price of Jesus dying on the cross for us! God sacrificed the life of his very own son for us…if that doesn’t make you feel valuable I am not sure what will!

Psalm 139:14 also states that we are fearfully and wonderfully made. The context of the word fearfully here refers to the respect and reverence God has for us when He created us! This also demonstrates the value we have in God’s eyes!

Check out these scriptures to further understand who God says we are!

We are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God. 1Peter 2:9

He chose us in Him before the creation of the world…Ephesians 1:4

He predestined us to be adopted as his [daughters] through Jesus Christ…

He gave the right to become children of God… John 1:12

We should be called children of God…1 John 3:1

You are all [daughters] of God through faith in Christ Jesus… Galatians 3:26

You are fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household…Ephesians 2:19

Our citizenship is in heaven…Philippians 3:20

He set His seal of ownership on us…2 Corinthians 1:22

We are God’s workmanship… Ephesians 2:10

God made you alive with Christ… Colossians 2:13

God has made also an heir… Galatians 4:7

I have called you friends… John 15:15

If anyone is in Christ, [she] is a new creation…2 Corinthians 5:17

We are therefore Christ’s ambassador’s… 2 Corinthians 5:20

[God] seated us with Him in the heavenly realms… Ephesians 2:6

Doesn’t that just blow your mind?!! To be bought at a price…to be made fearfully…to be chosen…to be God’s daughter…to be considered royalty…to be an heir…to be seated with Him in heaven…just to name a few!

As you read through these scriptures, you can see not only who you are…but whose you are!

Allowing your identity to be in anything other than Christ will leave you disappointed. Because everything in this world is subject to change…but only Christ is unchanging.

I continue to attend athletic training conferences to keep up my credentials…and I still have young ladies come up to me sharing how they know who I am…one of the first women athletic trainers ever in professional baseball!

I just smile…My identity is in Christ now…because that’s what defines me…because that’s where my value comes from…because that’s who I am now.

Reflection Points:

1)      Who are you really?

2)      Where do you find your identity?

3)      Is your identity in Christ?

4)      Who does Christ say you are?

Action Points:

1)      As Christians, it is important that our identity is in Christ. If we put our value and worth in anything other than Christ we will be disappointed.

2)      We can easily put our identity in other things but by understanding and studying what God says about us, we can accept who we are in Christ.

3)      Review the scriptures listed to gain a better understanding of who you are…and whose you are!

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An Unnamed Woman…A Practical Message

When I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior a number of years ago, I vividly remember how excited I was!  So excited that I couldn’t wait to share the news with my family and friends…hoping they too would accept Jesus! So excited that I was ready to quote them Bible scriptures and point out their sin…explaining their need to accept Jesus!

I remember sharing my excitement with my brother who was experiencing some difficult circumstances in his life at that time. I thought to myself… “If he just accepted Christ, his life would get better!” He pushed me away and didn’t want to hear about Jesus.

I remember sharing my excitement with my friends and hearing them say I was going through a phase and thinking I was part of a cult now. They too pushed me away and didn’t accept my life-changing experience of becoming a Christian.

I even recall sharing my excitement with my mother. Her response?  “So what does that mean…are you gonna marry a Pastor now?” …showing no enthusiasm for my new life with Christ.

I had encountered Jesus and accepted Him as my Lord and Savior…and my heart’s desire was to see others come to know Him as well!

Although my excitement was certainly warranted about sharing the message of Christ, my methods in sharing this truth with others were quite possibly not the best. Do you share any similar experiences too?

One of the most truly amazing encounters with Jesus recorded in the bible is the encounter between Jesus and an unnamed woman at a well. It is referred to as…the story of the Woman at the Well…also known as the story of The Samaritan Woman.

It is a story of a woman whose name and age we do not know…a story of an unnamed woman who has a life-changing conversation with Jesus…a conversation considered to be the longest one on one chat recorded in scripture! That just might be enough to spark our curiosity of this story’s significance!

This encounter between Jesus and this unnamed woman…recorded in John 4:1-26… is full of many important lessons for us today… but one lesson may not appear as obvious.

If we examine this encounter more closely, we will see something very interesting…something we can so quickly overlook…something we can so easily miss…a hidden message that certainly has practical benefits for us.

And that is the way in which Jesus brought the truth to this unnamed woman.

Jesus comes and sits at the well for a moment while his disciples go into town for food. While Jesus sits and rests, our unnamed woman comes to the well to draw water. Jesus asks her for a drink. (John 4:4-7)

When a Samaritan woman came to draw water, Jesus said to her, “Will you give me a drink?” John 4:7 NIV

Practical Point 1: Even though Jesus knows who she is and what her issue really is, He first establishes a relationship with her.

Many times we think it takes time to build a relationship but it may only take a few moments to establish rapport with someone. Here we see Jesus developing a rapport with this woman so that she would be more open with Him.

Check out the woman’s response after Jesus asks her for a drink.

The Samaritan woman said to him, “You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman. How can you ask me for a drink?” (For Jews do not associate with Samaritans.) John 4:9 NIV

The unnamed woman is surprised when Jesus asks her for a drink! Why?

Well, not only was it unheard of for a rabbi to speak to a woman in a public place, but Jews looked down on Samaritans because they had intermarried with the nations around them and were no longer “pure-blooded” enough to be considered true Jews.

Practical Point 2: Jesus demonstrates His love for her. It didn’t matter to Him that she was woman or a Samaritan.

When we share the truth with others, love should be our motivating factor. A person’s socioeconomic status, race, age, or any other stereotype should not prevent us from sharing with others the truth about Jesus.

Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.” John 4:10 NIV

Jesus points out that if she knew who He truly was she would be willing to ask for the living water which can only come from Him. It is this living water that ultimately and forever quenches your thirst and satisfies the soul’s desire.

Practical Point 3: Jesus speaks of normal and ordinary things but leads her to talk of spiritual things.

When sharing the truth with others…like Jesus did…it’s important to be relevant and relatable. It is so easy to jump into spiritual things…it’s so easy to point out a person’s sin…it’s so easy to throw bible scriptures out…but to really impact others who don’t know Christ, we should talk about normal and ordinary things in life and find that common ground with them first.

Now the woman asks Jesus for the living water that only He can give… but check this out! Look at Jesus’ response!

He told her, “Go, call your husband and come back.” John 4:16 NIV

He is getting to the point by revealing the truth of her spiritual condition…her sin which is now coming out of the darkness and into the light. And Jesus is doing this without being combative or judgmental!

He isn’t wacking her over the head with the Bible or beating her down with scriptures about her sin…He isn’t accusing her of being an adulteress or harlot…He isn’t telling her that she is a sinner and is going to hell. And note… He isn’t compromising the truth here either.

Practical Point 4: Jesus gets the truth revealed about her sinful life in a manner that doesn’t beat her up and abuse her spiritually. He does it in love…leading her to spiritual things…leading her to the living water…leading her to the truth.

What a great story for us in presenting the truth of Jesus Christ to others! In this story of the Samaritan woman, Jesus spoke the truth but did it in a way that was respectful and with love.

1If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. 1 Corinthians 13:1-3 NIV

I know sharing Christ with others can be difficult at times…especially with our families and close friends. Jesus presents an example for us to follow. Every situation will not fit exactly into this example and timetable… but the principles can certainly be applied and followed. The message of Jesus Christ never changes…but for some of us…the method of sharing Jesus may need to change.

Jesus demonstrates the importance of building relationships and rapport…Let others see your walk…not just your talk. In time, they will see your changed life and new heart.

Jesus demonstrates His love for this woman. He chose to travel through Samaria…He didn’t have to…but He loved her so much. He went against what a respectable Jewish man would do…He spoke to a woman of the hated Samaritan race…but He loved her so much. He knew she was a social outcast…He knew she had a bad reputation…He knew she was a sinner…but He loved her so much.

Love should be our motivating factor in sharing Christ with others. And that love can be seen through our actions in serving and going out of our way for others…like Jesus did.

Jesus demonstrates the importance of being relevant and relatable. Meet people where they are at. Show interest in their life and be relatable.

I may not have started off with the greatest wisdom in sharing the truth with my family and friends…and that’s ok. I have learned a few things since then.

Update: After my bother showed no interest when I shared the truth with him, I prayed for his salvation every day. Three months later, he accepted Jesus as his Lord and Savior when a Harley Davidson minister shared the truth with him. And He has continued to live his life as a Christian for over 10 years now!

My mother accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior after her hairdresser shared the truth with her. Two years after her salvation, my mother passed away. I am so thankful I will see her again in heaven one day.

Our job is not to save people…that’s Jesus’ job. Our job is to develop relationships with others and share the truth with them in a loving, respectable, and relevant way.

And only God knows the encounter that will one day set them free…like the unnamed woman at the well! Let the example of this encounter serve as one practical method for us to follow in sharing Jesus with others!

Reflection Points:

1)      Were you excited to share with your family and friends the truth about Jesus after accepting Him as your Lord and Savior?

2)      How did they respond?

3)      Did you point out their sin and give them bible scriptures explaining their need to turn to Jesus?

4)      How effective is this method of sharing the message of Jesus Christ?

Action Points:

Review the story of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well and allow it to serve as a method to share the message of Jesus Christ with others.

Come and Have Breakfast

A number of years ago I was flipping through the channels on the television when a woman speaking on a Christian station caught my eye. She was sharing her story of how she had come to know Jesus. For many years, she had worked at an abortion clinic and assisted physicians in performing thousands and thousands of abortions.

One day, someone shared with her the Gospel of Jesus and she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Immediately after this life changing moment, she went back to the abortion clinic and shared Jesus with the physicians and her coworkers…explaining the importance of not performing these abortions. They wouldn’t listen to her.

She walked away that day from her job…a different person…a new creation…a child of God…a changed life.

She continued to explain how afterwards she experienced many years of shame and guilt as she would replay in her mind the many babies that she had helped abort. She had confessed her sin to the Lord…but she couldn’t forgive herself. How could she?!! I mean all the lives that were taken away because of her hand …

Are you carrying shame…guilt…regret today…even after confessing your sin to the Lord? Are you struggling to forgive yourself from past mistakes and failures? Is the burden of guilt weighing heavily upon your shoulders?

Jesus’ disciple…Peter…aka Simon Peter… is a great example in the Bible of someone who made some mistakes…some big mistakes… and who most likely struggled with guilt and regret too.

So what exactly did Peter do?

John 18:25-27 records the account of Peter denying that he knew Jesus…not just once…but 3 times! He knew Jesus personally as his friend, his teacher, and his Master. He spent a lot time with Jesus…and yet his fear drove him to failure…and denying his association with Him!

Can you imagine what Peter must have thought… how he may have felt…after denying Jesus 3 times?

Peter…realizing his mistake…demonstrates afterwards his deep sorrow and repentant heart as he “went outside and wept bitterly.” Luke 22:62 NIV

Peter said he would never deny Jesus and he blew it! He probably thought that now he would be disqualified from ever doing the Lord’s work again…wouldn’t you?

After Peter denies Jesus 3 times, we see in John 21:1-14 that Peter decides to go fishing. You may be thinking…so what is so significant about that?

Well, considering that Peter’s decision to go fishing occurs after he denies knowing Jesus, we can assume that Peter is more than likely not feeling too good about himself at this point and not really sure if Jesus would want him as his disciple anymore. Why?

Because by saying, “I am going out to fish.” John 21:3… Peter is going back to his previous life as a fisherman. He may have thought… “I have totally failed the Lord…I feel so guilty and ashamed… I can’t forgive myself …I will just go back to fishing.”

With the weight of guilt hanging heavy on his shoulders…Peter returned to his old life of fishing. He probably replayed the tape of denying Jesus …over and over in his mind. He couldn’t forgive himself and maybe he wasn’t even sure if Jesus would forgive him either.

Sound familiar?

Have you ever felt guilty for something you have done and wondered how God could ever forgive you?

Do you know that no sinmistakeor failure is too big or too great for God to forgive?

Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from EVERY lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:14 NASB

Do you tend to replay your mistakes and failures over and over again in your mind…even after asking for God’s forgiveness…but just can’t seem to forgive yourself?

It isn’t always easy to forgive ourselves for a wrong that we may have done. And there are certain things that we may have done or we punish ourselves for…over and over and over again! The shame …the guilt…the regret…can seem unbearable and almost impossible to overcome!

So how can we get past these feelings of shame…guilt…and regret…that keep us chained to our past?…that keep us focused on our mistakes and failures?

The answer…accepting Jesus’ invitation to “Come and have breakfast.”

Check this out! What is truly amazing is that after Peter and the disciples went fishing, Jesus says, “Come and have breakfast.” John 21:12.  Jesus took initiative to invite Peter to breakfast.

Unfortunately, too often, especially when we are experiencing guilt and deep regret, we do not pick up on the Lord’s invitation.

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 28:11 NIV

We may not hear the Lord’s voice and invitation because we are too busy beating ourselves up over our past and are stuck in our shame….stuck in our guilt…stuck in our regret.

Peter could have refused Jesus’ invitation to breakfast. He could have said, “I am going to stay right here. I am not going to risk it….I am not going to risk failure again. But he didn’t…he accepted the invitation and came to breakfast with Jesus.”

The biggest obstacle in self-forgiveness is the tendency to stay focused on our own self-guilt.  God doesn’t want us to dwell on our past mistakes, failures, and sin…He wants us to be free!

Therefore there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. Romans 8:1NASB

God says that He will trample our sins under his feet and cast them into the ocean depths (Micah 7:19)…and that He removes our sin as far as the east is from the west and remembers them no more! (Psalm 103:10-13)

If God removes our sin and remembers them no more…then who are we to remember and carry the burden of shame and guilt?

True freedom from shame and guilt comes because of what Jesus endured on the cross.

Simply put…when we can’t forgive ourselves, then what we are really saying is that what Jesus did on the cross wasn’t good enough! The beatings, the torture, the blood that was shed…the death, burial, and resurrection…wasn’t good enough!

It wasn’t good enough? Really?

Of course it was! …We can be free of all guilt and shame… and the Lord will even heal our hurts/pains when we confess our sins…ask for the Lord’s forgiveness…and accept Jesus invitation…like Peter…to come and have breakfast.

Accept Jesus’s invitation that His grace is sufficient and our slate is clean!

My grace is sufficient for you… 2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV

Jesus’ invitation to Peter to Come and have breakfast is a demonstration of Jesus’ love, compassion, forgiveness, grace, and mercy towards us!

Let’s move forward today…be free of all shame and guilt….accept Jesus’ invitation of forgiveness…and forgive ourselves!

Reflection Points:

1)      Have you ever felt guilty for something you have done and wondered how God could ever forgive you? Do you know that no sin…mistake…or failure is too big or too great for God to forgive?

2)      Are you carrying shame…guilt…regret today…even after confessing your sin to the Lord? Are you struggling to forgive yourself from past mistakes and failures? Is the burden of guilt weighing heavily upon your shoulders?

3)      Do you tend to replay your mistakes and failures over and over again in your mind…even after asking for God’s forgiveness…but just can’t seem to forgive yourself?

4)      So how can we get past these feelings of shame…guilt…and regret…that keep us chained to our past?…that keep us focused on our mistakes and failures?

Action Points:

1)      The first step is understanding that no sin…no mistake…no failure is too big or too great for God to forgive.

2)      The next step is asking Jesus for forgiveness by confessing and repenting (turning away from your sin.)

3)      We must then accept and understand that God removes our sins and remembers them no more. It is accepting that God’s grace is sufficient and Jesus’ death on the cross is enough to cover all our sins…every single of one of them!

4)      God doesn’t want us to carry the burden of shame and guilt. He doesn’t want us to condemn ourselves for our past mistakes and failures. (Romans 8:1)

5)      Nowhere in the bible does it talk about us forgiving ourselves. By understanding this…we can then forgive ourselves and accept Jesus’ invitation like Peter to come and have breakfast.

Metaphors for Growth

A couple of years ago, my husband Billy was loading up the back of his SUV with baseball equipment. It was a windy day here in Arizona…what we call monsoon season. (FYI…for my non-Arizonians…Arizona monsoons range from minor dust storms to violent thunderstorms characterized by heavy winds and accompanied by thunder and lightning often leading to heavy downpours.)

All of sudden, I heard Billy yelling for me. I ran outside and I couldn’t believe what I saw. Our next door neighbor’s tree had fallen on top of the SUV! With Billy inside of it! No joke! Thankfully, no one was hurt and there was very minimal damage to the truck considering the size of this tree and its long branches!

I remember this tree in our neighbor’s yard because it always looked very interesting….as it grew up vertically it also grew out horizontally. I was so shocked and amazed that a tree of this size had actually uprooted from the ground and had fallen over. I would have bet any day that its roots dug down deep into the ground! I was apparently wrong.

What a great metaphor for our own lives as we grow in our relationship with Jesus! The importance of being rooted deeply in Christ so that when the wind blows and the storms of life come we will be able to withstand them and not fall over.

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7 NLT

Colossians 2:7 is a great biblical scripture that I find so fascinating because it is full of metaphors. And if we dig deeper into this scripture, we can not only gain a greater understanding of these metaphors for growth but also see how to apply them to our lives!

Grow Downward

Let your roots grow down into him… 

Paul…the writer of Colossians…uses an agricultural image here…Unlike the tree that fell on my husband’s SUV, a tree must put down deep roots in order to find nutrition and to provide stability.

Just as a tree is “rooted,” we are to be grounded in the soil of God’s word. We must go deep with Christ in order to find the fuel we need to flourish and for stability to withstand the storms of life.

They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit. Jeremiah 17:8 NLT

One commentary states…Believers are sometimes compared to trees, and are trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord; and their root is Christ, from whence as such they spring, and by whom they are filled with the fruits of righteousness; in him they are to abide, keep close unto him, and walk in him; deriving all their life, nourishment, fruitfulness, grace, and perseverance in it, from him as their root. Gill’s Exposition

Grow Upward

…and let your lives be built on him.

Paul moves to a construction image here to show that as our foundation is built on Christ, we must continue to add on so that we are “being built up in him.”

…built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. Ephesians 2:20 NIV

So what exactly does it mean that Christ Jesus is the chief cornerstone?

In biblical times, buildings were often made of cut rock. A cornerstone was a big stone placed at the intersecting angle, where two walls of the building came together. By uniting these 2 walls, a cornerstone helped align the whole structure and tie it together tightly.

And so similarly, Jesus… the chief cornerstone…holds everything together and provides alignment and stability to our lives!

They [believers] are also sometimes compared to a building, to a house, a temple, an habitation for God; and Christ is the sure and only foundation on which they are laid, and where they are safe and secure; and, being fitly joined together, grow up as an holy temple to the Lord; and this being their case, they are to go on laying the whole stress of their salvation on him, building their faith and hope of eternal glory entirely upon him; Gill’s Exposition

Building our foundation on the chief cornerstone…the solid rock of Jesus Christ… is so important for our spiritual growth. As Christians, we are in no way exempt from crises or storms coming our way and so by putting God’s word into practice, we can stand firm when our foundation is tested!

As for everyone who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice, I will show you what they are like. They are like a man building a house, who dug down deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck that house but could not shake it, because it was well built. Matthew 6:47-48 NIV

Grow Inward

Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught.

We must be taught the word of God in order to grow in our faith.

It is so important that we are not just attending church on Sundays but also participating in weekly bible studies, small groups and studying God’s word daily on our own.. We are to be students of the Word and as a disciple…always learning.

It is important that we are putting ourselves in an environment where we can study God’s Word and be strengthened on a regular basis.

Study to show yourself approved unto God, a workman that needs not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15 KJB

So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. Romans 10:17 KJB

Grow Outward

you will overflow with thankfulness.

The more we study God’s Word, the more we understand God’s grace. The more we understand God’s grace, the more we will overflow with thankfulness.

A thankless person betrays a life which is no longer focusing on the greatness of Christ. Author and Pastor Kent Hughes

A heart that overflows with thankfulness stays focused on God…not on ourselves or our circumstances. It is only by grace and the appreciation of what we have received though Christ’s death on the cross that we will overflow with thankfulness in all circumstances.

Rejoice always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances; for this God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NIV

So are you growing downward…growing upward…growing inward…growing outward in your relationship with Christ?

Colossian 2:7 provides great metaphors for growth in our lives as Christians…

Grow downward…by being “rooted”

Grow upward…by being “built up”

Grow inward…so we can be “strengthened in the faith”

Grow outward…as we “overflow with thankfulness”

Reflection Points:

1)      Are you Growing Downward? Are you “rooted” in Christ? Are you letting “your roots grow down” in Christ for nourishment and stability in your life?

2)      How do you respond when crisis or the storms of life come your way?

3)      Are you Growing Upward? Is your foundation built upon the chief cornerstone…the solid rock of Jesus Christ?

4)      Are you Growing Inward? What are you doing to grow and be strengthened in your faith?

5)      Are you Growing Outward? Are you overflowing in thankfulness? Or has your focus turned from God to your circumstances?

Action Points:

Review the paragraphs above to understand the metaphors for growth depicted in Colossians 2:7 and apply them to your life.