Thursday, September 03, 2015

From my quiet time this past week...

This beautiful graphic is by Abby at Little Birdie Blessings
For my quiet time each weekday morning, I like to spend some time meditating on Scripture.  (Actually, "like" is a pretty mild word for it.  I pick up my Bible and notebook every morning so excited to see what I am going to learn that day!)  The past few months I have enjoyed working my way through a couple of Bible reading plans from Love God Greatly.  First I did the study on Psalm 119 and got oh, so much out of that one.  When I finished that one, I went back to an older study called Made for Community.  When I do these, I typically just use the reading plans to SOAP the verses for each day.  I don't usually bother with the study guide, as I find I am getting a great deal out of the verses simply by SOAPing them.  Sometimes I will do the memory verses, but in this case most of them have been ones I already have memorized.

Anyway.  I wanted to share a couple of my verses from last week.  That week's theme was "Living in Community with the Body of Christ" and I found it so encouraging and challenging.  So without further ado, I will share the verse from last Thursday, which was Ephesians 4:2.  Here goes:

S (Scripture)= "With all lowliness and meekness, with long-suffering; forbearing one another in love."  (Ephesians 4:2)

O (Observation)=  Although Paul addresses this letter to "the saints who are at Ephesus", he goes on in the same breath to address it to "the faithful in Christ Jesus" -- which certainly includes believers in any location and at any time in the history of the church.  The theme of the letter is "The Church, Christ's Body". 

This  particular part of the letter has been titled as "The walk and service of the believer."  In verse 1, Paul has just beseeched the believers to "walk worthy of the vocation to which ye are called."  Verses 2-3 go on to describe how this is to be done:
• with all lowliness and meekness
• with longsuffering
• forbearing one another in love
with the goal (verse 3) of "keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace."

There are several helpful cross-references for the word "love" in verse 2:
Ephesians 3:17-- we're to be "rooted and grounded in love".
Ephesians 3:19 -- we're to "know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge."
Ephesians 4:15 -- we're to "speak the truth in love."
John 13:34 -- Jesus said, "A new commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another."

A (Application) = I'm passionate about wanting to walk worthy of the vocation to which God has called me.  I desperately want not to miss any of the purposes God has for my life.  This often translates or carries over into a zeal and passion for other Christian women not to miss all that God has for their lives.  And this is good.  I know that God intends for me to use my spiritual gifts to instruct and encourage other women.  But verse 2 makes it very clear just how I'm to do so:

I'm to do this in all lowliness and meekness.  I can't be proud or boasting or in anyway conveying that I've in any way "arrived" -- because there is no good thing in me.  I am no better than any other believer.

 (But I am very thankful that God has inclined my heart toward spiritual growth, and that He's helped me to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit's nudging in that direction.)

And in my instructing and encouraging others, I am to have the attitude of longsuffering.  This doesn't come naturally.  I tend to get impatient with spiritual immaturity, especially in those who have known the Lord for a long time.  But God is longsuffering, and He wants me to exhibit that quality, as well.  In fact, He has given me longsuffering as part of the fruit of the Spirit.  I just need to nurture it.

I'm also to forbear others in love.  I had to look up the word "forbear".  It means (according to the dictionary I consulted) "to refrain from doing, to control oneself, to be patient."  So I need to be patient and forbearing with those who are still spiritual infants or toddlers, out of love for them.  Of course I do still need to speak the truth, but I must do so in love.

P (Prayer) =  Lord, I thank You so much for directing my path to this verse today.  I came to this point in my reading schedule at the exact right time, as this week I've been so burdened for immature believers that I know.  I'm not sitting in judgment on them, but my heart aches for them.  Unless they grow, unless they make progress in the Christian life, they will never have the precious fellowship with You that You intend for them to have.  They will never know Your purposes for their lives, much less live out those purposes.  I pray that You will help me to reach out to these folks in some way, and to lovingly encourage their spiritual growth.  I thank You for all You will do, in Jesus' name, Amen.

I hope that this verse and these simple thoughts have encouraged someone today!

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