The Bible isn’t a shelf decoration. It’s your life’s dedication. To grow in faith requires reading God’s word and putting it into action.
If you grew up in a Christian home you might remember singing this song as a kid. It goes like this… 1 Chorus: “Read your Bible, pray every day, Pray every day, pray every day; Read your Bible, pray every day, And you will grow, grow, grow.” 2nd chorus: “Don’t read your Bible and forget to pray, And forget to pray, and forget to pray; don’t read your Bible and forget to pray, And you will shrink, shrink, shrink.”
Lean into the growing process
As my fear becomes larger than my faith I tend to shrink; burying myself in worry and distrust in God. I realize my earthly priorities aren’t in line with God’s eternal vision. A sure sign I haven’t been reading my bible and praying everyday. A sure sign that I need to get that Bible off the shelf and into my hands. Then I’ll… “grow, grow, grow”. Grow in faith, grow in peace and grow in vision of God’s will for my life.
1 Verse in 3 Different Translations
But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop.
In these three different translations you have 3 different verbs: “persevering, patiently and enduring.” This verse encourages us to not only hear God’s word but to actively hold on to it. How do we do that? Through consistency of reading and praying everyday so his words are secured in our heart. Even in face of trials and suffering we can stand firm on the word of God and grow… grow… grow!
Obey Christ to Follow Christ to Grow in Christ
It takes obedience to follow Jesus, the original trailblazer, who blazed a trail for us to connect to God. To navigate this route we have our “map” – the Bible. A navigational tool that leads and equips us to take the steps it requires to stay on trail so we can grow in likeness of Jesus.
Recently a woman asked me, what fills up your days? Sitting next to my 4 year old daughter, I looked down at her, then back at the woman. I replied, “parks, play dates, preschool and… play dough” (priceless). In giving her an accurate answer those 4 P’s just came out so naturally. It’s truly what fills up my days. But not everyday truly feels fulfilling…
I caught myself daydreaming of the “other work” I could be doing rather than watching my daughter. Assuming “other work” might be “more important” than staying at home. I knew these weren’t Godly thoughts because its He who fulfills my purpose in motherhood. So I quickly googled: “Christian mom quotes” (internet perks), I needed a perspective change and stat!
Here are some quotes I found encouraging:
Motherhood is a million little moments that God weaves together with grace, redemption, laughter, tears, and most of all, love. – Lysa TerKeurst
Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God might not be something you do, but someone you raise. -Andy Stanley
You are as much serving God in looking after your own children, and training them up in God’s fear, and minding the house, and making your household a church for God, as you would be if you had been called to lead an army to battle for the Lord of hosts. -Charles Spurgeon
The Christian mom doesn’t love Jesus instead of loving her children; she loves Jesus by loving her children. -Jen Wilkin
“Children are not a distraction from more important work. They are the most important work.” – C. S. Lewis
Only God Himself fully appreciates the influence of a Christian mother in the molding of character in her children. -Billy Graham
My Daughter’s schedule fills up my days, but its the Lord who fulfills my purpose.
These quotes changed my perspective on how God sees me as a mother rather than how I see me. His grace pulls me out of the self-pity and into a willingness to be a self-less servant. For scripture says, “As a mother comforts her child, so will I comfort you….” Isaiah 66:13. God does not leave us alone when we comfort our children, he’s here for our comfort too. I feel that every time I turn to him.
Dear God, thank you for reminding me that motherhood is important work. To help me realize that truth you call me to spend time with you to refuel my motherhood energy. You help me to re-centre, re-focus and remember WHO I am is found in you. Especially, who I am as a mother and the purposeful work that it is. Lord, open up windows of “me-time” that refuel my energy so I can remain thankful and present with my child. Amen.
What About You?
How can God uplift you today and remind you that your role as a mother is important and fulfilling? How might he show you ways to give you energy to live that out? I learned that the Lord fulfills my days by seeking him in all I do. Regardless if its 5 sick days stuck at home or 5 vacation days exploring new experiences. God is in the center of all my days. He is what fulfills my purpose because he fulfills his promise. He promises to never leave us or forsake us, (Deuteronomy 31:8). SO, I come to him with all my needs, desires, wants and complains. He refreshes my soul with his never ending grace.
The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
Seeking God is not in vain if you seek: humbly, wholeheartedly and in faith that he will answer you.
What a joy it is to know God wants us to find him because he wants to be found. He wants a relationship with us. He is a forgiving and grace-giving God waiting for us to acknowledge, admit and adhere to his love. Our part is to realize we are in need of him; the start to seeking.
I grew up in a Christian, God-serving, church-going household and I am forever grateful for my upbringing as my parents guided me to faith. Growing up, I also grew very passionate about playing basketball with the goal to receive a scholarship to play in university. In 2007, I achieved that goal and accomplished a great rookie year. However, the academic side of school became a huge stress in my life and basketball became more of a job than a sport I loved. I started to question my own happiness and wondered where God was in all of this. I worked so hard, yet became so unhappy. Aren’t “Christians” happy people? I’d often ask myself. I realized I needed help beyond myself. I needed God.
Seeking begins with a realization we cannot save ourselves.
Summer of 2008, I cried out to God in desperation to find this “inner peace” and “joy” I heard so many times in church. Why hadn’t I found this to be true for me? I went straight to the source – God in prayer. Laying it all out, my fears, disappointments and feelings. Then, after much prayer, I decided to take a year off to learn about my identity as a Christ-follower instead of a basketball player.
Seek and you will find.
You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
I sought God in prayer, surrendering my scholarship or what else I knew to give me happiness in exchange to learn more about following him. So, I asked God for three things: the ability to keep training my basketball skills (to keep the option of playing again probable), to get a job and to travel. Within three weeks of this surrendering prayer, God answered me. I received a job as an assistance basketball coach, whilst on the side being trained by the head coach. As well as, working as a front desk clerk for GoodLife Fitness (which included a free membership). Then a friend invited me to join her to volunteer for a bible school called, “Youth with a Mission” (YWAM) in the Sunshine Coast of Australia. God gave me the three specific things I asked for in prayer (basketball training, a job and travel). To me that was confirmation that God heard my prayer. Now, it was my turn to learn about following him…
I took the year off to travel and seek God.
I took a year off of university and set off in January 2009 to travel with YWAM in Australia. During my time volunteering with the Bible school I got to sit in all the Bible lectures teaching me about how to have a personal relationship with Jesus.
One day I can remember the moment that all my seeking came to a halt because the presence of God met me. It was during a worship song and prayer time. I felt so discouraged that I made all this effort to serve God and I still didn’t feel he was near. I became mad and left the room towards a bathroom stall to pout. Then I prayed again, “God, why aren’t you answering me? Don’t you see all my effort I am doing to pursue you???” I will never forget the immediate answer I felt in my heart from the Lord that day. I heard within my Spirit God say, “Emily, you are here becauseI pursued you”.
God is always in Pursuit of you.
God wants a relationship, a two-way-street. He wants us to respond to his pursuit of love for us. For me, I realized he wanted more than just faith, he wanted my participation or willingness to allow him to change me. The moment I realized he wanted my participation was the moment our relationship became real. He wasn’t forcing me to follow him, he was waiting for me to say “yes”.
You seeking him is a response to that initial pursuit of his.
Saying “yes” to God means repenting of our sins and adhering to his will. We learn about his will through reading the the Bible. Understanding God’s character makes his presence more known than simply waiting on a physical “feeling” to emerge.
The Lord looks down from heaven on the children of man, to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God.
I am more aware of the presence of God because of how much more I know about him. And one thing I know about him is that he calls us to seek him diligently (Proverbs 8:17) and continually (1 Chronicles 16:11). In all things and in any circumstance he is there and he is approachable because his love for us came before our love for him.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Deciding to take that year off changed the course of my life and my faith for the better. As it lead to another month of travel and yet another bible school with YWAM in Montana, USA, called: Summer of Sports. Continuing my training on the court whilst training spiritually off the court.
After that year off, I was able to return to my university basketball scholarship and finish my degree. What a miracle that was! Praise God!
Why I share my story.
I share part of my life to encourage you that when you seek God with your whole heart, your seeking is not in vain. Every time I go back to God, whether its in a life-crisis or a day’s stresses, he answers me. He answers me in peace to not understand why some things happen and others don’t. In joy, knowing I am secure in my eternal fate or in friendships and community when I experience change and transition. The Christian life isn’t a perfect one but it is a content one, which was the most important thing I’ve learned in my year of seeking God. As I understood that my identity is not in my ability to play basketball or in my ability to make people like me, but it’s found in the acceptance of Jesus Christ.
Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment,
What about you? Are you seeking God, willing to trust he’ll find you?
Are you seeking? Searching, pursuing, thinking, mediating, or striving after God in order to be found? As we seek God in faith, we trust that he answers us in the best way possible. Trusting God knows us better than we know ourselves, which includes the answers and outcomes of our prayers. We can be uncertain of how God will answer, but certain that he does answer. There is not an if he will answer but a HOW he will answer, which is the beauty of faith. When we trust in the character of God and rely on the previous testimonies of how he met us before (or others we know, or people in the Bible), we are more willing and continually able to seek him again and again.
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.
God volunteered His vulnerability through His Son, Jesus Christ, for us. Through vulnerability Christ endured pain on His way to the cross and while on the cross. Jesus’ mission on earth was entirely vulnerable as He exposed himself as fully man and as fully God. Proclaiming His identity as the Messiah and Saviour to all. Many times throughout the Gospels we read Jesus saying, “its not my time yet” or simply disappearing to escape from the crowd. He knew people would try to kill Him as soon as He exposed His identity as Messiah. I can’t imagine a more vulnerable position than that. Yet, we read on. When it was time for Christ to be crucified we read the most vulnerable words out of Jesus’ mouth, saying:
When I read that I thought, wow, God is really highlighting a vulnerable moment of weakness here, or so it seems. But, when I read ‘The ESV Bible Study’ foot notes, I got more clarity on the meaning. The foot notes describes His words like this: “Jesus expresses faith, calling God, “my God”. Surely he knows why he is dying, for this was the purpose of his coming to earth. And surely his cry, uttered with a loud voice, is expressing, not bewilderment as his plight, but witness to the bystanders, and through them to the world, that he was experiencing God-forsakenness not anything in himself but for the salvation of others.”
Salvation is the deliverance from sin and its consequences brought about by faith in Christ. Believing in Jesus Christ is our life’s greatest Victory because it saves us from our own deserving death. Christ became the ultimate sacrifice for our sin by dying on the cross. A vulnerable act from a victorious God.
Christ as Victory
We know that Jesus did die, but three days later rose again (Matthew 28:5-7). Then as Christ appears to the disciples, with still holes in his hands from where he was crucified, he commissions them. He said, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:16-20).”
The vulnerability to victory doesn’t stop at Jesus’ death and resurrection but begins again through us by His Spirit.
I pray we become a people vulnerable to share the Gospel wherever we are. Not scared by what others may think or intimidated by not “knowing enough”. But believing that God is always with us. For where there is vulnerability in Christ there is also Victory in Christ. Not my will be done, but yours, Oh God. Amen.
“So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes,and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Despite our physical and earthly unknowns – God makes His path of life KNOWN. What is this path that David is talking about? It’s the path of following Jesus. In Matthew 7:14, Jesus says its not an easy path rather it’s narrow and hard and few will find it. But it leads to eternal life. The easy way is a wide path which seeks the approval of man rather than God. So to have confidence in this KNOWN path of God – we must follow Jesus with our lives. Regardless if its hard, because it will be. Thinking of a narrow path there is only one direction I can walk, straight. In a wider path there is so much room to roam I may actually start walking sideways or backwards, losing my sense of direction completely. I choose to follow the narrow path, where it keeps me directly inline with Jesus, the original trail blazer.
Fullness of Joy
This brings me to the second part of the verse, where David says, “in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” So, not only is the path guarantee life for us, although hard, there is still a fullness of joy. Where is this joy found? In His presence! Where is His presence? It’s in us who believe in Him! I can receive the joy of Christ where ever I am or whatever I am doing because His spirit lives in me. By believing and accepting Jesus as my Savior I no longer fear which path to take. Instead I make a commitment to the KNOWN path that promises a fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore. This brings me great peace because its not by my own strength that I must follow. It’s the Lord’s strength that goes before me and guides my steps. I have joy in knowing His presence is always with me.
I am Encouraged by the Known Path of Jesus
My husband and I have no idea where we will live or work come next year. We are facing so many unknowns about our own lives currently that this verse brings me great comfort. To know that my joy is not found in a location or in a job but its found in Jesus. His presence with me anywhere I am. Praise God for the narrow path, although hard to see (physically) where it leads, (spiritually/mentally) I know its good for me.
God gave me a dream about the importance of wearing proper footwear. I hope it inspires and gives you hope like it did for me too!
Whilst in the water, I looked down at my feet and I was wearing footwear. I asked my surfing instructor, “why am I wearing shoes on a surfboard, don’t most people go barefoot”? The instructor replied, “yes, but this will help you have traction and stability on the board”.
After I wrote down my dream I prayed and asked the Lord for its meaning. Then I started thinking about spiritual warfare and the armour of God. So I read Ephesians 6:10-17 and came across verse 15 about our feet being “fitted with the readiness that comes from gospel of peace”. Reflecting upon my dream, the obvious factor are surfers don’t wear shoes so the symbolism in that came obvious to me. I have allowed the waves of fear and worry to push me off my “board” or path. Instead I need to be stable in my faith, with gospel fitted footwear, so I can ride the waves instead of letting them crash over me.
It’s all about the proper footwear
Whenever I embark on a new sport or outdoor activity my first reaction is, “what’s the proper footwear”? I want to excel at what I am learning and not waste my time with improper gear. For example, I know what my feet need in a shoe to perform well on the basketball court because of my years of experience. But when my husband introduced me to rock climbing I had no clue what my feet needed. Turns out rock climbing shoes are a lot LESS comfortable than a cushioned basketball sole. However, the tight fit of a rock climbing shoe was important in manoeuvring up and around a rock wall. Proper footwear doesn’t always seem comfortable at first, but with trust in its purpose it can help maximize performance.
Spiritual proper footwear
As Christians we need to have this same mentality when we walk in our faith. Are we wearing the proper footwear to best suit our spiritual quest? When we read Ephesians 6:10-17 we learn about the armour of God. As part of the armour of God, footwear is part of the spiritual gear.
“…with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
My faith is in the Gospel of peace because then I am protected, supported and able to stand strong. I’m agile in my faith – ready to move in any direction. I fasten up my gospel shoes each morning because I know Jesus is the peace I stand on. Fully prepared and ready to move so wherever I go I can share the good news. I trust in the purpose of the Gospel and fasten it under my feet to be ready for anything that shakes my path.
Unlike buying a shoe at a store, the gospel shoe has already been purchased on our behalf. It is gift to receive. The peace of Jesus is a gift for anyone to receive.
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God”.
How I am to drive, starts and ends with Him. Every thought and action with every limb.
In-between it all, I choose to follow. For a victory that is not hollow.
Painted lines on course, keeps me on the straight. Although narrow, it secures my end fate.
Yet many will not make it, I still race. Set backs, I pit stop, to recharge my pace.
Never giving up, I drive for the prize. Already obtaining it keeps me wise.
In passion and fear of going off course. Like good engineering, He fuels my force.
In control, suited up, I drive with ease. I’m racing for Him who qualifies me.
Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
In the book of Daniel, we learn about Daniel – a devoted man of God who served in the palace among other highly esteemed men (Daniel 1:3-6). He served different types of kings in his lifetime. God gifted him with favour and the ability to interpret all kinds of visions and dreams. Known for his outstanding abilities, handsome good looks (Daniel 1:4), wisdom and courage – Daniel had it all! He’s a hero! But when we read about Daniel we see that the true HERO of HEROES was God working through him.
Daniel’s faith – the lions den.
King Darius was reigning in this time and he liked Daniel very much due to his exceptional abilities. So the King wanted to appoint Daniel to the highest position in the kingdom. When the administrators and governors heard about this they were jealous because he had such favour with the King. So they wanted to find him guilty of something but knew Daniel wasn’t guilty of anything. So they had to get crafty..
…the administrators and the governors tried to find grounds for charges against Daniel in his conduct of government affairs, but they were unable to do so. They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt nor negligent. Finally these men said, “We will never find any basis for charges against this man Daniel unless it has something to do with the law of his God.”
So these administrators and governors went as a group to the king and said:
“May King Darius live forever!The royal administrators, prefects, advisers and governors have all agreed that the king should issue an edict and enforce the decree that anyone who prays to any god or human being during the next thirty days, except to you, Your Majesty, shall be thrown into the lions’ den. Now, Your Majesty, issue the decree and put it in writing so that it cannot be altered—in accordance with the law of the Medes and Persians, which cannot be repealed.” So King Darius put the decree in writing.
The men knew how devoted Daniel was to God. So they easily caught him praying as he normally did. With the new decree in place, King Darius had no choice but to throw him into the lions den. But THIS is the redemption story…
The Lord rescues Daniel, the Hero of heroes.
An angel of the Lord came to rescue Daniel by shutting the mouths of the lions. When the King approached the lions den – Daniel answered him…
“May the king live forever! My God sent his angel, and he shut the mouths of the lions. They have not hurt me, because I was found innocent in his sight. Nor have I ever done any wrong before you, Your Majesty.” The king was overjoyed and gave orders to lift Daniel out of the den. And when Daniel was lifted from the den, no wound was found on him, because he had trusted in his God.
Since we are focusing on the hero of heroes, we look at Jesus in this story. Where can we see Jesus in this story through Daniel?
Daniel was innocent and yet charged and sentenced to his death. Jesus was a truly perfect man without fault and charged to his death. Mark 14:55 says, “The chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for evidence against Jesus so that they could put him to death, but they did not find any.”
Faith is not based on our own possible outcomes but on the eternal communion with God.
Daniel did not die of this persecution, but the possibility was around every corner. Jesus died, and rose again, both were faithful through persecution even to the point of possible death. This is a good example because it shows us how faith is not based on our own possible outcomes. But rather on the certain outcome of eternal communion with God. We need to have this eternal perspective. This depth of relationship doesn’t necessarily remove suffering and pain, but can bring a layer of peace to our lives.
Trust in the HERO of HEROES that lives in YOU.
Like Daniel and Jesus we too can have a personal relationship with God – through prayer. Daniel prayed three times a day to posture his heart towards God. Daniel 6:10, “…Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed, giving thanks to his God”. Jesus himself often withdrew from large crowds to be alone with the Father to pray. Luke 5:16, “But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed”. We too need to find ways in our daily routine that posture our hearts to God. Making time for our relationship with God will grow our faith in Him. Be bold like Daniel and embrace Jesus – the HERO of HEROES who lives in you!