Satisfying

ThomasGary_PurePleasureLast week, in one of her blog posts, Holley Gerth mentioned a book by Gary Thomas called “Pure Pleasure“. I like Gary’s writing, and this book sounded good, so I asked my local library to inter-library loan a copy for me — which they did. And already, it is good! Here’s a quote that I loved:

“We can build lives of true, lasting pleasure, and so fortify ourselves against evil because evil has lost much of its allure — or we can try, with an iron will, to ‘scare’ ourselves away from evil while still, deep in our hearts, truly longing for it. Which life do you want to live?” (p.15)

The book also said:

“In a progressive journey of faith, God gradually re-centers our desires toward holy pleasures, spiritually good and healthy things that leave us satisfied and full, so that sin begins to lose much (but never all) of its appeal.” (p.24)

Basically, it’s saying that we need to be so saturated with God in our lives that we want what He wants for us, and then the joy of living for Him so far outweighs the pull of sin that we aren’t even going to be interested in straying from our faith! It’s like having two platters to choose from: the deep, soul-satisfying life God has for us, or the worldly pleasures… which will we choose?

The world’s problem (and even some Christians’ problem) is that they think the Christian life couldn’t possibly be satisfying enough — it looks boring, dull, and so lacking in fun! But in reality, God’s way is the only way that truly fulfills at the soul level and never leaves you wanting. It is completely satisfying!

If only people could get just a taste of this! Those worldly pleasures would totally lose their appeal.

Taste & see that the Lord is good!” – Psalm 34:8

Learning…

Well, since I did a post, already, about the stuff I’m unsure about, I thought I’d also do a post about what I’m learning / enjoying in this same study, “Experiencing God” by Henry & Richard Blackaby (and Claude King).

p. 14 ~ “Look to see how God generally works throughout the Scriptures. When you learn how God has consistently related to people throughout history, you can expect Him to work in a similar way with you.”

I really liked this! It’s a good reminder, first of all, that God never changes. And, I like knowing that God has provided a guidebook for our lives, so we can see how things were resolved in the past, and have hope for our future.

p.15 ~ The focus needs to be on God, not on my life.” (example: not “What can I do for God?”, but “What does God want to do through me?”)

Too often we make it about ourselves… we forget that we’re playing a part in God’s story, and that life here on earth isn’t about us. I’m certainly guilty of this. I get so caught up in the day-to-day dramas of life, that I forget that there’s a bigger picture.

p. 20 ~ “God wants you to come to a greater knowledge of Him by experience.”

I can definitely say that I’ve gotten to know God better through experiences of Him than I have had than through any reading I’ve done, or through any teaching I’ve heard. God has shown Himself in many different ways, sometimes more powerful, sometimes more subtle, but always in a way that I knew it was Him.

p. 25 ~ “As Moses obeyed God, God accomplished through Moses what Moses could not do in his own strength.”

Over and over, in my reading of the Bible (and through other Christian sources), I’ve learned that I can do nothing in my own strength and actually succeed… it has to be God that does it through me, if it’s going to work. But yet, over and over again, I go back to trying to do things in my own strength, praying that God will help me succeed. How silly! “For apart from me you can do nothing!“, God says in John 15:5. But, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me“, He also says in Philippians 4:13. 😉

p.33 ~ “God-centeredness requires the daily death of self and submission to God.”

A lot of times I’ll think that submission and death-of-self are a one-time thing… I’ll pray for God to take the reins, and think that it’ll all be smooth-sailing from there, only to find out the next day that I have to lay it all down again!

p. 43 ~ “God has not changed. He still speaks to people.”

This is comforting. I love knowing that my God is the same one that I read about through the Scriptures; the same God who sent His Son to die for me; the same God who says He loves me. And, I love that He speaks to me. 😉

p. 45 ~ “Do not assume that the moment God calls you, you are prepared for the assignment.” -and- p.47 ~ “God uses the smaller assignments to develop character… If God has a great task for you, He will expand your character to match that assignment.

Sometimes we have to be patient and wait to see what God will do. Sometimes we’re called by God, but we’re not yet fully ready to take on what He’s asked of us.

I liked how, in the study book, the authors used the example of Abraham… God told him that he’d be the father of many nations, but Abraham had to wait 25 years to start to see anything come from that promise! In the meantime, though, God was preparing Abraham to be able to live that out… He knew that Abraham’s character had to be developed a bit more before Abraham would be ready to be the father of Isaac, etc.

p. 48 ~ “Often God will deliberately ask you to do what you failed to do in your own strength. Now you will do it in His strength.”

Anyone other than me find that they have to go through the same things over and over again, ’til they finally get it? LOL. I’m an awfully stubborn creature, apparently, ’cause there are some lessons that I have to repeat time and time again, in order to fully learn that God is the one who is in charge. 😕

p. 53 ~ “I could say I obey Him, I serve Him, I worship Him, I fear Him. But I cannot say I love Him.

Ugh. This one is a hard one to admit to. But, I think it’s true of me. It’s not that I don’t love God at all — it’s more so that I don’t love Him enough. The Bible tells us that we show we love God when we obey Him, and do what He says. (1 John 2:5) And, I have a hard time doing that. I still too often want to do everything my own way, and I too often live life as if it’s all about me.

p. 55 ~ “If you knew all you had was a relationship with God, would you be totally and completely satisfied?

I wish I could say “yes”, but I’m not to that point, yet. I hope to get there, some day, though. I’m praying that that will be true of me at some point!

p. 58 ~ “Make sure you are investing your life, time, and resources in things that will last, not things that will pass away… Only God can guide you to invest your life in worthwhile ways.”

This was timely, as I’ve just recently made up a list of how I can be more intentional in my daily living. It all started when I read Chris & Kerry Shook’s book, “One Month to Live“. It got me thinking about how I spend my time, and about how a lot of what I do is not really investing in my future (eternity). Much of what I do isn’t really worthwhile, when you look at it from that perspective. So, I’ve decided that I’d like to change that.

This little quote, though, showed me that my list is going to need to be revised… because I left God out of the equation. I didn’t ask Him how He thinks I should best spend my time/resources.

One in a Million” study: Week 3 notes

One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land” by Priscilla Shirer

WEEK 3 ~ Notes:

* God is predictable in His character, but He is complete unpredictable in His activity.

* Our God is good and kind.

* It may seem impossible, but God has already guaranteed your victory in Scripture.

* It causes you to walk through the wilderness a little differently when you know your victory is sure.

* Moses gave the Israelites 4 instructions:

1) Be FEARLESS ~ by the Holy Spirit’s power in you, you do not have to fear!
2) Be STILL ~ don’t sit down, or you’ll fall asleep on the job! Engage your will, and have a firm resolve.
3) Be WATCHFUL ~ we’re often too busy looking forward to the next season of life that we miss what God is trying to do for us right now! Don’t wait for the problem to go away — open your eyes to God’s blessings today!
4) Be SILENT ~ train yourself to be quiet and to stop complaining about your circumstances.

* If we really believed that there was Someone out there who is in complete control, we wouldn’t get so flustered and stressed when life got chaotic.

 
* Two of the greatest sicknesses plaguing Christians today are in the “IF” family:

1) What If…?
2) If Only…

* Ask God for a continual awareness of His activity in your life.

* What concerns you, concerns God. He cares about the little things as much as the big things.

* Abundant life, promised land living, is not for tomorrow — it’s for today! Watch for it.

:: one of the reasons for the wilderness seasons of our lives is so that we’ll start expecting more out of God than ever before.

:: stop complaining, and start asking for and anticipating God’s supernatural activity. Expect the unexpected.

:: God can work out every ‘impossible’ situation for His glory.

:: when we see that following God includes challenges, we start to question His authority. Worse yet, we long for the very thing from which Christ freed us… The idea of relying on a God we can’t see makes us feel out-of-control and weak.

:: when God allows you to face a ‘Red Sea’, don’t become discouraged. Don’t whine and question the Lord’s ability. Expect that God is positioning you to see Him work in your life in a unique and unusual way.

:: every wilderness journey has a ‘Marah’, where refreshment and hope seem imminent but fail to deliver …’Marahs’ position us to put our hope not in ourselves or in the world but in God. We can’t anticipate and provide for life’s trials, but the Lord can and does.

:: Without God’s influence, nothing in this world can really quench the deep thirst of our souls.

:: Scripture is clear that God hears and responds to the cries of His people… He can take your biggest heartache –the one that causes your chest to ache with frustration– and turn it into the sweet spot on which your spiritual outlook hinges.

:: God is both powerful and reliable. He could effectively rescue [the Israelites] from anything.

:: we can’t have the benefits and blessings of Canaan without first learning how to walk through the wilderness in dependence and faithfulness.

:: Yahweh allowed the Hebrews to experience an inner emptiness that they did not have the ability to fill. He wanted them to experience the abundant supply that only God’s pantry can offer.

:: a time of waiting and patience followed each miracle. The Israelites had to trust in God’s love and protection even when the miracles decreased in frequency.

:: the spirit of complaint often takes this pattern. It begins as frustration and spreads into a raging flame of disgust, whining, and longing for something other than what God provides. Complaining is what kept God’s people from passing their spiritual tests… Grumbling blinded them to the fact that the in-between time was part of God’s plan.

:: we must choose to carefully guard our reaction to in-between times (Phil.2:14).

:: discipline your mind to focus on the good.

:: the wilderness is a blessing meant to help us see God more fully and completely, to help us love Him more wholeheartedly, and to show us the importance of committing to Him above all else. It provides a vital and necessary prerequisite to reaching the spiritual abundance He wants to give.

:: God wants for you to give Him, His influence, power, and ability more weight in your life.

:: we must trust that God will choose to work in a way that both brings Him glory and serves His purposes for our lives… the Lord is not bound to our whims… we cannot make demands of God and grow disappointed and angry when He doesn’t move in the way we expect.

One in a Million” study, Week 2 notes

One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land” by Priscilla Shirer

WEEK 2 ~ Notes:

* God CHOSE the wilderness for the Israelites… it was no accident!

* When we get eye-to-eye with a challenge, it calls out the potential in us.

* Wilderness times help us to see God (and ourselves) in a new light.

* Isn’t it just like God to NOT do things the way we think He should?

* The best way to learn to be disciplined is to be in a situation where you have to exercise self-control.

* God wants to develop us, and He uses the wilderness to do it.

:: What seemed, to the Hebrews, like the best path to freedom, would have caused trials that they were not ready to face. (Proverbs 16:25)

:: The road God chooses for us is often not the road we might expect. He often chooses a wilderness journey for us to give us an opportunity to experience Him in a way that we might miss in a place of ease & convenience… His goal is to make us more dependent on Him.

:: Only wholehearted devotion would ensure their entry into the promised land.

:: You can be certain that God is looking out for your greater good…

:: God sees the end result.

:: God doesn’t mind our questions, but we must never allow our questions to overshadow the fact that God has all the answers.

:: God wanted their allegiance, their loyalty in the face of difficulty, and their thoughts focused not on the big, threatening enemy but on Him as Provider and Protector.

:: Freedom from Pharaoh was to set the people’s hearts on the complete service and worship of God… to acheive intimacy with Him.

:: We must synchronize our primary purposes with God’s… we can neither accomplish abundant life with God nor overcome the enemy’s advances without the Lord’s help… He wants us to lay aside our determination to do life our way and follow Him.

:: God is ALWAYS in control.

:: Never forget that God is the source of all good things.

:: The key to taking full possession of the land God promised was obedience, but the key to finding full appreciation of it was found in remembering God’s goodness and protection through their extended years in the wilderness.

:: The true test of our commitment is best seen when there is no refreshment in sight, just plain after plain of dry wasteland.

:: God still chooses to display Himself to people today when, for reasons we’ll never know, He orchestrates nature or circumstances to dramatically show His presence… He still wants to make Himself fully known to us and does so by working through what He’s created.

:: God gave the weary, thirsty Hebrews exactly what they needed to suit their precise circumstances… God knows exactly what is needed to refresh you, too!

:: Our Father will remain mindful of us, knowing our needs and caring for us in the midst of our journeys.

:: Reminding ourselves of God’s love for us in the wildnerness is always of utmost importance.

:: The Lord will abundantly supply all of your needs. (Philippians 4:19)

:: God strategically places “Elims” (oases) in our paths that will refresh us when we think we can stand no more.

:: Keep your head up and your feet moving forward as you travel on your life’s journey. God loves you and has not forgotten you… Press On!

One in a Million” study: Week 1 notes

Our ladies’ Bible study group is now working their way through Priscilla Shirer’s study, “One in a Million: Journey to Your Promised Land“.

For the next couple of posts, I’m going to share the notes I’ve taken from the study. Enjoy! 😀

WEEK ONE (notes):

* Our God is a God of abundance.

* we want the pew to hit the pavement — for what we learn in church on Sunday to be applicable to our day-to-day lives.

* John 10:10 ~ “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (“life” = milk | “abundantly” = honey)

* God wants us to have a life with a little sweetness on top.

* There must be deliverance to even begin the journey.

* Just like Israel, we need to be delivered from (1) a person, and (2) a place.

* for every good gift God gives, Satan is right there to offer a counterfeit.

* a lot of believers are free from the person [Satan], but are still living in the places [bad books / raunchy TV or movies / sinful relationships, etc] owned by the enemy.

* Are we still hanging out in the places where the enemy reigns? –> in places/with things that hinder what God wants to do in our lives. (Hebrews 12:1)

* Galatians 5:1 ~ “It was for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore, keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery.”

:: To me, the elephant seemed to long for freedom. If only he knew that his little fence was nothing compared to his innate strength… if only he realized that he could break that shackle with one powerful move and be free.

:: Before God’s chosen people could hope to ender the land promised to them, the shackle had to break. It held them back from finding the abundance God planned for them.

:: …all those who refuse to pursue freedom from the curse of sin forfeit the place of “milk & honey” — fulfillment, freedom, satisfaction, contentment, and overwhelming joy.

:: …only One instrument can unshackle us from the cuse and consequences of original sin…God’s ultimate deliverer, Jesus Christ.

:: We must continually turn our backs on the temptation to rebel against God.

:: Since our tendency as humans is to err in a direction away from God, we must retrain ourselves to walk in the ways of freedom …daily living in that freedom takes work as we cooperate with God’s Spirit.

:: The enemy of our souls knows our strengths and weaknesses, and he has the goal of contriving ways to keep us under his thumb… He encourages us to keep returning to the very sins from which Christ freed us.

:: Sin is progressive. What once satisfied us loses its power. Before we know it, we are more and more entangled in a web that is slowly taking the life out of us.

:: Far too many Christians turn away from the narrow road of abundant living to temporarily enjoy the Enemy’s worldly variety.

:: The simplicity and singleness of the manna in the wilderness symbolized the Christ who was to come. (John 6:35 ~ “I am the bread of life.”)

:: To start living like free men and women, His people have to start eating like them.

:: Like Daniel, we must adapt a strong resolve and a firm stand against Satan’s attempts to serve us food from his table.

:: See God outside of the box.

:: Expect to see God’s power in supernatural ways, anticipate miracles in your everyday existence, and hear His voice with startling clarity.

:: A narrow view of God creates a boundary that limits our experience of Him.

Beth Moore’s “Esther“: Weeks 5-9

Here are the notes I took from weeks 5-9 of the Beth Moore “Esther” study:

WEEK FIVE:

* In a book with no blatant mention of God, one of the biggest and most important concepts of providence in the book of Esther is TIME.

* Sometimes our emotions are not going to precede our actions.

* we’ll never fulfill our God-ordained destinies as long as we’re still straddling the fence — we need to put away the things of our old (pagan) life and follow Christ completely.

Question: Can others see the difference that Christ makes in your life???

* there’s a power that comes with wisdom & wait

* women are not powerless! We’ve been given the gift of INFLUENCE.

* our strength will be depleted if we’re waiting on the thing… but it will be renewed when we wait on God (see Isaiah 40:31).

* God is deeply attentive to our most secret hurts, concerns, and hopes.

* God cannot break His promises (see 2 Timothy 2:13).

* we learn as much from Scripture about what we don’t want to be as what we do.

WEEK SIX:

* a REVERSAL OF DESTINY is where what appeared to be the future is suddenly changed by an intervention that can only be divine.

* “Chiastic Structure“: a reversal of structures to emphasize an overarching point…

For example: “We don’t live to eat, we eat to live.

A = live
B = eat

A                   B

 X

B                   A

* “Peripety“: a sudden turn of events that reverses the expected or intended outcome… the hinge on which our reversal of destiny turns.

* Esther was called to obedience, not to figure out how it was all going to go down.

–> we, too, are not responsible for how this thing works out… we’re just called to be obedient, moment by moment.

* perfectionism would’ve paralyzed Esther…if she’d given way to it.

WEEK SEVEN:

* Every turn-around begins with a single step.

* God KNOWS how to rescue me! (see 2 Peter 2:9)

* when your prayer request waits, you are waiting — but so is the Lord… there is something that the wait is for (it accomplishes something).

* God waits for our trust

* God’s patience always involves His passion (see Revelation 1:9, The Message)

* there’s a God in Heaven who can take where your life is headed, pick you up, and point you in a new direction.

* sometimes God wants to show us what we can do, rather than let us find someone who can do it for us.

* God reversed every negative of His threatened people into a positive.

* God, alone, is the author of reversals.

WEEK EIGHT:

* we can’t know victory unless we’ve gone through something difficult enough –> you have to know what it’s like to come up against fierce opposition.

* God’s grace is sufficient according to our true needs… not according to our imagined fears (sometimes we fear things we just made up).

* Every time you’re in a tight fist of fear, remember that you’re in something much tighter!

Isaiah 49:16 — “See, I have engraved you on the palms of My hands…

((to “engrave” something on the palm of your hand, you’d have to be holding it fairly tightly — God holds us in His hand tight enough that we’re “engraved” there!))

* YOU can make principalities cower!

* want the upper hand? Get your hands up in the air, raising your troubles to God!

* God fights for me! (His son even died for me, already!)

* know, above all else, that your God LOVES YOU!

* we rarely take the time to rest, reflect, and celebrate after a victory… we need to go out of our way to remember the wonderful works that God has done.

* Esther shows that ordinary events are NEVER coincidental in the lives of God’s people.

* [God] will be faithful to you… do not fret. When you least expect it, God can turn it all around.

* every time in the Bible where there’s war & bloodshed, there is first a warning — a chance to repent and walk away. Everyone gets a chance to start fresh.

WEEK NINE:

* when God’s done something good for you, you have permission to PARTY & celebrate!

* we are complete in Christ, but we’ll not fulfill our destinies without our “along-withs” –> there are some things we need to do with others, as a partnership. We’re not meant to do it all alone.

* you can’t tell, as  it’s going along, that everything is going according to plan — things can seem dark, gray, and uncertain. Hindsight, though, reveals God’s master plan, and how it was accomplished. 😉

* we women are in bondage to the way we view men… we’re obsessed with them

–> save your obsessions & the deepest needs of your soul for Christ, alone.

* take all of your insecurities to Christ as He (unlike humans/men) is never overwhelmed by you, or your neediness.

* if I’m in God’s shadow, then He is going before me, and He is standing between me & my enemies.

Read ‘n Respond: “Pagan Christianity?” by Frank Viola & George Barna

paganchristianity_frankviola_georgebarnaI’m currently reading a book called “Pagan Christianity?: Exploring the Roots of Our Church Practices” by Frank Viola & George Barna. And, while it’s a really interesting book, with a lot of good points, I’m a bit disturbed by some of the things they’re saying. My internal warning bells are going off, big time.

For example…

On page 116, the authors write, “The non-New Testament concept of sacerdotalism — the belief that there exists a divinely appointed person to mediate between God and the people — originated with Cyprian [of Carthage].

But, I beg to differ! In the Old Testament, God did appoint mediators… He gave the Israelites the high priests that were the go-betweens between God & His people. They were the ones who entered the Holy of Holies at specific times to make atonement for the peoples’ sins (see Leviticus 16:1-34). Moses was also a mediator between God and His people. He was the only one allowed to go up the mountain to meet with God, and receive instruction (see Exodus 19).

Originally, I also had issue with the fact that the authors were claiming that the church building was something we shouldn’t have. I thought, “But we’re to meet together with other believers (Heb.10:25), so we need a place to gather“. But, then they clarified that the church’s architecture is made to elicit a response… it teaches us “what the church is, and how it functions” (p.37).

And, their talk about how a pastor is a hinderance also got up my ire. They claim that there’s no mention of a pastor in the Bible. And, I thought, “But it does talk about shepherding God’s people, and leadership. (see 1 Timothy 3 and Ezekiel 34:1-10).” But, then I realized that, even though it talks about shepherds leading God’s people, that also could mean anyone in the church who is gifted with leadership. And the authors then clarified that “shepherds” refers to people who have a natural talent for nurturing and caring for God’s people.

So, I don’t know… I’m still reading this book with a spirit of discernment, and I’m taking it with a grain of salt. I’m thinking that I will take what I love from this book, and then just disregard the rest.

There’s a lot of it that I do agree with, mind you. Like how the authors say that our fixed pews and our stage make it seem like we church-goers are passive spectators on Sunday mornings, and the pastor is providing the “entertainment”. They talk about how –in an organic/home-church– the members would all be able to contribute to the sharing of God’s Word. Whoever feels led to share a word they’ve received could do so. And, everyone would be able to look their fellow members in the eyes easily… not having to strain around to see behind them in a pew.

I also agree that the word “church” should refer not to a building, but to all of God’s people. That’s how it’s meant in the Bible, after all. The Greek word is “ekklesia“, meaning “a gathering of believers“.

More thoughts to come as I continue reading… 😉

Beth Moore’s “Esther“: Weeks 1-4

Esther_study_BethMoore My church’s ladies’ Bible study group has been working their way through Beth Moore’s study of the book of “Esther“, subtitled “It’s Tough Being a Woman“. And, man, is it ever good! I’m learning so much!

So, I thought I’d give you a little bit of a taste of what I’ve been learning! Here are the quotes I’ve gotten from weeks 1-4, plus the introduction…

INTRODUCTION

Providence” = nothing happens by chance

– What God’s Word says is TRUE… what I’m feeling is not necessarily true. For example: If I feel that God isn’t present with me, that’s a LIE! God’s Word says that God will “never leave me or forsake me”.

I found it interesting that… Esther marries a PAGAN king and then stays (and lives) in a PAGAN nation –> this makes me think of my own life, married to an unbeliever, and having a good number of unbelieving family members.

– it’s not so much our story as it is God’s story ~ and it becomes ours as He writes us into it.

– the Bible is full of stories where it seems like everything is hopeless, but then God saves the day so that His glory can be revealed (eg. Abraham sacrificing Isaac; Moses’ entire life!; Joseph being sold into slavery; Shadrach/Meshach/Abednego being thrown into the furnace; Jesus’ death on the cross; etc).

– the most freeing thing we can ever do is to abdicate the thrown of our own miniature kingdoms

– we have a sovereign God who reigns over all and is threatened by NONE

WEEK ONE

* “You cannot amputate your history from your destiny

– don’t ever forget what God dragged you out of!

– repetition in Scripture usually means that God is making a point

– every time a Biblical character is mentioned for the first time, you can be sure there’s something important to learn

I found it interesting… that Esther grew up without her dad being present… like me!

– God sometimes allows our confusion to coax us into further study of the entire Word. Only by measuring actions by other Scripture can we clarify right and wrong in certain morally ambiguous narratives.

– …some events remain gray to us regardless of our search through other Scriptures, leaving us without definitive ways to measure them. At those times, we might assume that God means to teach us a historical or spiritual lesson more than an ethical or moral one.

– that’s why God is busy conforming us into the likeness of Christ alone. None of the rest of us can bear the burden of constancy.

– we, too, can become so steeped in our culture that we are almost indistinguishable from the world. We, too, can lose our sense of identity and forget who we are.

– we who comprise the His bride will make ourselves ready for the King through nothing less than the soul-healing pursuit of purity.

WEEK TWO

* “Insecurity is at the heart of every rivalry.”

– there’s nothing meaner than a coward

you’ll never be more prone to the enemy’s attack than when God has set you free from some sort of captivity, but you’re still on the raod to your ‘promised land’ (when you’re weary and frazzled from the journey).

meanness ALWAYS has a history –> it doesn’t just come out of nowhere

2 Corinthians 10:12 says that comparing ourselves to others is foolish … comparing leads us to feel threatened, in some way, which brings out our inner “mean girl”

– we need to learn to identify the threat, and then let God deal with it!

WEEK THREE

– sackcloth & ashes symbolized not only the Jews’ povery of spirit before the Lord, but their complete deadness without Him

– an in-depth approach to Scripture changes so much! The Holy Spirit ends up unearthing hidden treasures and shedding light on details that make a narrative spring to life in a way that casual reading can’t.

– …strength comes from muscle, and muscle develops with a workout. This is as true spiritually as physically. What we don’t use, we lose!

– when our old priorities don’t go with our new life, we either return to our old life, or adopt new priorities.

– priests of the Tabernacle would fast for 3 days to get ready to receive the Holy Spirit before entering the Holy of Holies… perhaps this is why Esther called for a 3-day fast with all of the Jews before approaching King Xerxes with her request.

WEEK FOUR

– the most frequent command, given by God, in the Bible is… DON’T BE AFRAID!!!

– you can be brave!

– we can be one decision away from completely changing our outcome

– my current choices may have an impact on my destiny

– we’ll never know the abundant life (John 10:10) until we’re free from the grip of fear

– “COURAGE” comes from the Latin word, “cor“, meaning “heart

– Christ offers us the courage of His presence… make sure you take it! (“Take heart…”, He says)

Proverbs 31:10 – “A wife of noble character, who can find?“… term “noble character” is the same as the Greek word, translated “valor“, meaning “BRAVE“. Therefore, a “brave” woman is “more precious than rubies“.

from “Divine Obsession” by Rob Hensser

This has got to be my all-time favorite retelling of the Creation story… taken from Rob Hensser’s book, “Divine Obsession” (pages 56-57):

“…Finally, the Father did something completely different. Until that point, God had just spoken the word, and everything in creation had come into existence. This time the creator got down onto His hands and knees and began to pull the dust and dirt together, forming man.

“Lovingly and tenderly, He personally molded the shape of man with His own hands. Then the Father leaned over and His lips touched Adam’s in the most intimate, holy kiss, as God breathed life into him. Adam’s chest suddenly inflated as air surged into his lungs for the first time. His back arched off the ground as his body filled with the sweet, humid air. His eyes fluttered and slowly opened. Light streamed into his eyes for the very first time.

“The first thing Adam saw when he opened his eyes was God’s face, just a few inches from his own. He felt the warmth of God’s breath on him. Unable to contain His excitement and pride, the Father was grinning from ear to ear.

“The Father slipped His arms around Adam and carefully helped him stand up. He held His wobbly friend until strength flowed into his leg muscles. Adam rose shakily, swaying to and fro as he stood for the first time. Not willing to wait a moment longer, the Father began to tug at Adam, “Come on, let Me show you around.”

“Throwing His arm around His friend, God excitedly and proudly took Adam on a tour of his new home. “This is all for you; here is every green plant for food” (from Genesis 1:29,30).”

Don’t you just LOVE that?! I have always held this crazy belief that God is so solemn and serious… so this view of Him as giddy as a kid on Christmas morning just has me tickled! I can totally picture Him getting this excited… and it helps me feel that maybe God IS crazy-in-love with me. 😉