Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Are You Teachable?

“I’ll do it myself!” the two-year-old cries, stomping his pudgy food with fisted hands. ID-100284325

“I know what I’m doing,” says the stressed-out teenager who’s convinced they have a strong grasp on reality–and that we, the adults in their world, don’t.

“That editor just doesn’t get me!” says the writer who’s convinced their book is the next big seller, even though others have alerted them to major plot holes.

And so, they dig in their heels and continue on their way… further and further from the finish line.

ID-100260522Early in my writing career, my skin was thinner than a pears and as easily bruised. But before long I learned, if I truly wanted to grow, I’d need to allow God to develop within me a teachable spirit. This realization has helped me in every area of my life.

Are you doing the same? Today my sweet friend and fellow ICD writer shares her thoughts on teachability.

Are You Teachable by Susan AkenSusan'sheadshot

     (Read Ruth 3:1-6)

How do you react when someone gives you advice that is scary? We don’t know all of Ruth’s motivations and reasons for choosing to go with Naomi but we do know she was determined to stay with her and was deeply attached to her. Ruth had great respect for Naomi. When they arrived in Bethlehem, Ruth devoted herself to taking care of Naomi and providing for her. She always listened to Naomi and followed her advice. In chapter 3, verses 1-6, Naomi asks her to get all dolled up and go to the threshing floor where Boaz is sleeping. She tells her to uncover his feet and lay down there. Verse 6 tells us that Ruth “did everything her mother-in-law told her to do.”

She took a great risk here. She risked being rejected and embarrassed. She couldn’t know without doubt how Boaz would react. I think Naomi was sure of his reaction but there was no guarantee. Naomi asked Ruth to take this risk because she knew that Boaz (as next of kin) was her best hope for a future and she knew that he had taken an interest in Ruth since he told her to only glean in his field and instructed his workers to leave extra grain. When Naomi told Ruth to lie at his feet and then ask him to spread his garment over her, this was a custom of the time to let him know she was interested in marriage. You can read more about this HERE:

Ruth allowed Naomi to guide her and trusted her advice.

BeyondIDocover In Beyond I Do, Ainsley also has a mentor who gives her advice. Her friend, Deborah, who led her to Christ is also her coach and friend. Deborah encourages Ainsley to stay open to her mom and to forgive her even though she would prefer to just shut her out of her life. Deborah asks her to take a risk by opening her heart to her mom. Her mom has hurt her so many times over the years and she is afraid of being hurt again. But Deborah keeps gently prodding Ainsley to reach out. She remains open and teachable with her mentor. In one beautiful scene, when Ainsley realizes that she is not sure what is next in her life, Deborah asks her, “If you could do anything, knowing God would stand behind you 100 percent, what would that be?” When Deborah asks that question, Ainsley knows immediately what her answer is. She has known it in her heart but Deborah helps her voice that desire. She helps Ainsley find her ministry to hurting families.

If we want to grow as Christians, we must remain open and teachable. When we think we know it all or that we don’t need advice, we’re headed for a fall. When someone speaks into our lives what feels like criticism or makes a suggestion that would take us out of our comfort zone, God uses it to help us to grow and become more mature. I am experiencing that in my life. My good friend, Jennifer, has become a writing mentor (though I am older than her) and she has recently given me some challenges as a writer that would take me out of my comfort zone. She is also helping me realize that I need to be open to advice and constructive criticism in order to grow as a writer. We need each other!

Some questions to discuss, pray over, and ponder:

First, if you haven’t already done so, read Ruth 3:1-6

  1. How do you react when someone offers advice that scares you?
  1. Are you cultivating a relationship with a mentor? (I don’t think it has to be someone older than you, just someone you can learn from) Is there someone you could mentor?
  1. Would you be willing to share about a mentor relationship and what you learned either when you were mentored or when you mentored someone else?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below, join the discussion in our email loop, or at our Facebook Group page Beyond I Do Bible Study Group. 

***

Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings. Find out more about her writing or pick up one of her devotionals here.

Is your love for the convenient and comfortable keeping you from the extraordinary?

melodylodgekoct132_editedToday a sweet friend and talented author of Entrusted, Julie Arduini, challenges us to evaluate our life, opening ourselves up to God’s nudging, even if that nudging terrifies us or leads us well out of our comfort zones.

Moving Beyond the Comfortable by Julie Arduini

As Ruth worked the fields under the harsh sun and I suspect the wandering eyes of the fellow laborers, she wasn’t comfortable. The hours were long. It was dry and hot. Had I been out in those fields I confess it would take all of five minutes before the muttering would start. I would have imagined my life had I gone back home. Surely it would have been more…comfortable. I’d be angry thinking how Naomi would be home, not as hot and dirty, and although grieving, she’d still be what I was not.

Comfortable.

Ruth in the fields symbolized her faith walk. It was outside the comfort zone. She could have returned home. She stayed with Naomi. She could have refused to work the fields, but she didn’t. She could have kept the fruits of her labors for herself but she went home and gave the grain to Naomi.

I’ve never had to work a field but I have been challenged to step outside the comfort zone. With writing I remember the day God whispered it was time to say goodbye to writing the newsletter for the local Mothers of Preschoolers group. There wasn’t a bad thing in what I was doing, but God was calling me to do more. I had no idea what that more looked like, and walking in obedience was definitely a leaving the comfort zone experience.

I’ve left the comforts of a life I thought I would spend the rest of my days. We were an Upstate NY family, it was all I knew. When the financial fallout of 9/11 hit our area my husband’s job changed. An opportunity came in the exact time frame his job was ending but it was nearly 300 miles away. It meant leaving everything and everyone in a season where our baby was very ill and my dad passed away. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do.

BeyondIDocoverIn Beyond I Do, Ainsley’s life is a fairly predictable package. Things are planned out. Her life, her future is…comfortable. How tempting it is to ignore His call and bulldoze forward on our own strength and hopes. Ainsley’s choice is what Ruth had to face. What I had to surrender was the comfort zone.

It isn’t easy but Ruth’s story offers a great look at God’s heart. When Ruth obeys and surrenders the comfort zone she has a protector and provider named Boaz. He makes sure she receives food, drink, the most fruitful land, and stalks that had already been pulled out for her.

The very first day we moved to Ohio our daughter, severely delayed at the time because of her sickness, pulled herself to stand. Our son blossomed in his new school. My husband thrived and had dreams fulfilled at church.

Ainsley received a happy ending.

Leaving the comfort zone isn’t easy. It’s a choice nearly every minute to fight resentment and grumbling. But eternal rewards are there and as Ruth 2:1-17 show, favor is abundant.

That’s the zone I want. How about you?

Could you relate to Ruth and her obedience to leave a comfort zone by working the fields?

Do you tend to resent people who don’t seem called to leave the comfort zone?

Have you ever been in Ainsley’s position with a future mapped out but God was calling you in a different direction?

Describe a time when you felt God’s favor and protection.

What do you sense God is asking you to do with what you’re reading in Ruth 2?

***

Julie Arduini is an author with a passion to encourage readers to find freedom through surrender. Her first Adirondack contemporary romance, Entrusted, gives readers hope to surrender fear. A Walk Through the Valley will soon be available as an infertility devotional with 5 other authors. She blogs every other Wednesday at Christians Read and is a frequent contributor to Jasmine’s Place. To learn more about her writing and love of chocolate, visit http://juliearduini.com. She lives in Ohio with her husband and two children.

Entrusted FRONT Cover_editedEntrusted:

Jenna Anderson, sassy city-girl, plows–literally–into Adirondack village, Speculator Falls with a busted GPS. She gets a warning from the sheriff but has ideas for the senior center to prove she belongs in town as their director. Town councilman Ben Regan is as broken as the flower box Jenna demolished. He’s grieving and wants to shut down the center before there’s too much change and heartbreak. They work on community projects and build a slow relationship, but the council needs to vote on the senior center’s future. Can Jenna show Ben both her and the center are worth trusting?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this. I often tell our daughter, I’d much rather receive God’s blessings than consequences. What I mean is, I’d rather be walking in His will then venturing away from it. There’ve been many times when following God’s will has been difficult, uncomfortable, and frightening. Moving to Papillion was one! (You can read about that here.) But in every trial and triumph I’ve learned God is good, loving, and faithful. He truly does have our best in mind.

Share your thoughts in response to Julie’s questions here, via our study email, or at our Beyond I Do Bible Study Facebook group. If you’re not a part of our email loop or Facebook group and would like to be, simply shoot me an email and I’ll get you added. :)

WhenDawnBreakspreliminaryBefore I go, I wanted to share some exciting events in my world. I recently learned my novel, When Dawn Breaks, is available for pre-order at 25% off! You can get it here.

As the hurricane forces Jacqueline to evacuate, her need for purpose and restitution forces her to head north to her estranged and embittered daughter and into the arms of a handsome new friend. Dealing with his own issues, Jacqueline isn’t sure if he will be the one she can lean on during the difficult days ahead. And then there are the three orphans to consider, especially Gavin. Must she relinquish her chance at having love again in order to be restored?

Read a free, 23 page excerpt here.

Your heart was stirred and you responded with enthusiasm, determination, and focus. ID-100148082But that was so long ago, you barely remember the call. In fact, you’ve begun to doubt it. Did you really hear God? Is He in this? Has He given up on me or changed His mind?

You accepted the job, anxious for advancement and to put your unique giftedness to use. Oh, the plans you had! But after ten years of doing grunt work, watching others get promoted, get raises, while you remain stagnant, you’re beginning to wonder… God, do you see me? Do you care?

Obedience. Perseverance. Surrender.

Doing the right thing simply because it’s the right thing.

Many of us long to be used by God, and when we consider this, I think our minds often Luke16-10versepicjump to something grand. We long to be missionaries or to start a ministry, or perhaps lead our entire office to Christ.

But what if God called you to poverty… for Him. To give up everything to align yourself with the destitute and spend your days begging on the street corner?

This is the modern day equivalent of what Ruth did. She gave up everything to align herself with Naomi, to take on Naomi’s plight, and to spend the rest of her days, in essence, begging for food.

Pause for a moment to read Ruth 2:1-17.

Notice, Ruth took initiative. She offered to go out into the harvests to glean grain from “anyone who is kind enough to let me do it” (v. 2).

She humbled herself and served her mother-in-law in a grueling and demeaning position. In essence, she became a beggar. Notice, she didn’t play the poor-me card, bemoaning her situation, asking Naomi to join her. Never once do we read the words, “Why me?” coming from her mouth.

I believe that’s because she was entirely focused on the needs of her mother-in-law. Ruth truly loved and honored Naomi above herself.

In gleaning, not only did Ruth willingly take the position of a beggar, but she also potentially put herself in harms way. She, a defenseless woman voluntarily worked among hired hands; male strangers.

We can sense the potential danger in this through Boaz’s words in verses 8-10.

“Boaz went over and said to Ruth, ‘Listen my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly.‘” (Ruth 2:8-10a NLT).

Boaz would not need to warn his men not to treat her roughly unless he knew this was a common problem. Nor would he need to urge her to remain in his field unless he knew gleaning in other fields, among other strange men, could be potentially dangerous.

I believe Ruth understood these dangers as well, and yet, with courage, she set out to do the right thing. Even when it was hard or frightening. Here we see the depth of her love and sacrifice.

In these chapters, we also see her perseverance.

Harvesting grain was a grueling endeavor, one that exhausted the strongest of men. Hours spent in the sun, backs bent, hands rubbed raw by the rough sheaves of grain. Then, once the sheaves were gathered, they had to be winnowed then ground into flour or roasted.

Through all this Ruth persevered, not knowing what lay ahead, not knowing that every step of surrendered obedience was leading her to her calling.

As I read today’s passage, I couldn’t help but think of Luke 16:10

“If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”

Faithful in the little things…

Sitting with a neighbor even when it seems no one notices.

Serving in the nursery week after week, even though you’re tired.

Pouring your heart into a blog no one seems to be reading or perhaps editing a manuscript your certain will never go to print.

Going to work every day, giving your all, even though your boss credits your efforts to another.

ID-100189108Raising your children or grandchildren, wiping snotty noses day after day, even if it means struggling financially. While your neighbors hold prestigious jobs.

Faithful in the little things, doing the task, whatever it is, that God has set before you today.

Remaining in God’s will, even when it’s hard, tiring, or lowly.

Following His leading, trusting in His timing, even if the drudgery drags on. And on.

Surrendering your plan for God’s. This past Sunday our youth pastor, Robert Conn, gave an excellent message on trust and surrender. The sermon is titled “Practically Trusting.” I encourage you to listen to it by clicking here.

1. What stood out to you in today’s passage?

2. What do you believe were some of the external challenges Ruth faced during her period of gleaning?

3. What do you believe were the internal challenges she faced during her gleaning?

4. Can you share a time when you served out of obedience and it became difficult or tedious? What do you believe God was doing during that period? In what ways did that time of service help develop your character or grow your faith?

I could discuss this passage forever as I feel it is so incredibly rich, but alas, I’ve far exceeded the reasonable blogging word count. ;) I will leave you with this:

Each of us are called. God invites each of us to seek after and embrace the abundant life Christ offers. But oftentimes in our journey, we hit numerous roadblocks, set backs, and long winding valleys. It is our choice to give up or persevere.

Hold tight to your call. Hold tight to the One who called you.

Share your thoughts here, join the discussion on Facebook, or join our Bible study email loop. Make sure to visit  Beth’s blog FirstHalfDay on Friday for another discussion on surrender.

He’d been betrayed by one he’d served, then by one he loved deeply–his own son. Would he become bitter? Feed his wounds with negative thinking until they festered into a darkened heart?

I’ve been following the life of King David, from the time he slew his first giant, Goliath, to when the most destructive giant of all, sin, almost slew him. And as I read, one question dominates my thoughts: what must it have felt like to have your son turn on you? Not just turn on you, but raise up an army against you? That had to hurt deeply, deeply enough to lead to all sorts of anger and bitterness, if David let it.

Perhaps you can relate. Maybe someone you love deeply, someone you’ve trusted completely, has betrayed you. Betrayal hurts, but it doesn’t have to destroy us.

DSC_8889Today Katie Clark, author of Vanquished, shares some tips on forgiveness.

(For those of you participating in the Beyond I Do Bible study, visit Beth Farley’s blog tomorrow for lesson two.)

As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her novel to one reader randomly selected in the comments left on this post. 

FORGIVE AND FORGET

By Katie Clark

It’s so easy to hold a grudge—especially when someone has truly, deeply wounded you. That feeling of hurt can last for days, months, years, and it can be especially hard around the holidays.

That is, unless you accept the all-encompassing forgiveness offered through Christ. Easier said than done? I don’t think so.

So, how does one do this? How does one forgive? Life is a struggle, and the process may be different for everyone, but here are a few tips that may help along the way.

  • Realize it is okay to forgive. I held a grudge against someone for a long time. I held the grudge because I thought that if I forgave, it meant I condoned what the person had done. On the day I realized that my forgiveness didn’t mean I agreed with that person’s choice, I felt like I had been set free!
  • Realize it’s healthy for you to forgive. Focusing on the anger is a sure way to neglect your other duties. Forgiveness allows you to go on with what God has intended for your life. Leave God to work on the other person’s heart.
  • Realize that prayer is your greatest weapon not your last resort. Pray for the person who has wronged you. Love the person who has wronged you. There is no surer way for your own joy to be restored.

And always remember that your Heavenly Father is full of mercy and love, as well as forgiveness toward you. He loved you so much He sent his Son to be born in a lowly manger. May we all live to emulate Him!

Katie Clark has been telling stories since she was seven years old. When she grew up and realized people liked hearing the stories, well, she was hooked. She spends her days telling tales to her two wee daughters, and she wouldn’t trade it for the world. Katie’s published works include her upcoming YA novel, Vanquished, the first book in the Enslaved series, as well as numerous children’s books. You can connect with her at her website, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

Vanquished_ws11576_680Vanquished:

When Hana’s mom is diagnosed with the mutation, she is denied the medication that might save her life. Fischer, a medic at the hospital, implies there are people who can help—except Hana’s not sure she can trust him; Fischer is involved in a religious group, and religion has been outlawed for the last hundred years. Hana embarks on a dangerous journey, seeking the answers Fischer insists are available. When the truth is uncovered does Hana stick to what she knows? Or does she join the rebellion, taking a stand against an untrustworthy society?

Buy it here!

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. Is there someone you need to forgive? As you read today’s post, did one person come to mind? Forgiveness rarely comes easy, but it is necessary–for our own emotional and spiritual health. But we don’t have to forgive alone. God will give us the strength to daily turn our hurts over to Him, and in time, He will align our feelings to match. Because forgiveness is a choice, not an emotion. 

If you’ve walked through the valley of forgiveness and are now standing, emotionally free, on the other side, share your experience with us. Was it hard? Was it a battle you had to fight daily? How did God help you through it? Share your thoughts here or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Other posts you might find helpful:

How to Trade Bitterness for Blessings

Taking a Stand to Forgive

Fighting to Forgiveness

Freedom in Forgiveness

 

 

 

 

 

So much struggle. So much uncertainty. So much pain. And in one moment, one simple, ID-10016416rational choice, she could leave it all behind. Start over. Follow the easy path.

Or so it seemed….

As I read Ruth 1:1-8, I wondered how Ruth’s life would have changed if she chose to leave Naomi and return to the land of her people. Where she could stay with her relatives, find a new husband, have children, and live a life of ease.

At least, standing at the fork of indecision, that must have been how it seemed.

Read verses 8-10 again here.

To paraphrase, after Ruth’s husband died, her widowed mother-in-law’s urgings presented Ruth with a choice: She could focus on her grief, on her problems and self-preservation or she could die to herself and her needs and love her mother-in-law more than herself.

Let’s not lose sight of the significance of this. Here were two widowed women living during a time when husbands were largely a woman’s only hope of survival. This was before welfare and life insurance policies. In this agrarian society, to live without a husband meant one would be forced to depend on the generosity of others. (You can read more about widowhood in Bible times here.)

So in essence, choosing to stay with Naomi rather than return to her homeland, Ruth would be choosing a life that, could quite possibly, result in homelessness and hunger.

Can you imagine the fear? The inner turmoil this must have created?

I suspect some of you know the rest of her story, but let’s pause here, at this moment of intense pain and uncertainty. At this place of incredible tragedy, where, having lost her husband, Ruth had to decide: hold on to her life–focus on self, or surrender her life to God, not knowing what lay ahead.

In chapter one of Beyond I Do, Ainsley was given that same choice. Go back home and let someone else deliver that package to Deborah’s sick friend, or die to self, pushing past her fear, and obey.

Each day, we’re given that same choice as well, and how we decide directly affects our trajectory. With each choice, we either step closer to God’s call for us or we venture one step further away.

WeekOneVerseBIDStudy

If we try to hold on to our life, our dreams, our goals; if we focus on self-preservation, we lose. But if we surrender EVERYTHING, we win. Every time.

Oh, if only we could see the road ahead! Then our choices would be easier, wouldn’t they? But God is asking us to trust.

If you haven’t had a chance to read today’s Bible passage, or if you’re just joining us, you can read Ruth 1:1-8 here. If you haven’t purchased Beyond I Do, the novel our study springboards from, you can get an ecopy for under a buck or print copy for under ten here.

Let’s talk about this.

I encourage you to write Matthew 16:25 on an index card and keep it where you’ll regularly see it. The abundant life Christ offers begins and is sustained by surrender. But to surrender, we must learn to die to ourselves.

I’ve been told the questions I posed Thursday were a bit… abundant so I’m going to post a shortened list today. :) Even so, please don’t feel as if you have to answer them all. Rather, choose a few to think and talk about and journal on.

I encourage you to join the discussion here, through our email loop (let me know if you’d like to join. :) ) or on our study’s FB page.

Our Bible reading: Ruth 1:1-8
Focus: evaluating our past and present hurts in light of God’s sovereignty and grace.
What thoughts arose as you read Ruth 1:1-8?
We read about Naomi’s heartache but not much about Ruth’s. Why do you think that is?
What are some difficulties Ruth faced as a widow?
Why do you think Ruth chose not, at least from what we see, to voice her pain to Naomi?
In what ways can we see Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law?
In what ways did Ruth exhibit self-sacrifice?
When has God asked you to focus on others and not on your pain or trial, and what was the result?
ACTION PLAN: What might God be asking you to do this week?
Make sure to stop by Beth’s blog on Friday to discuss Ruth 1:8-22

Some questions to consider and pray about in preparation for Friday’s discussion:
What is it that keeps me from my calling?
What stops you from moving forward with God, or, if you are following God, what makes this difficult?
What does self-preservation mean to you and has it affected your walk with the Lord?
What are some ways you can know what God is calling you to?

 

 

Have you ever felt a nudge, a niggling deep in your heart, urging you to do something, something that ID-10075996seems so strange, or perhaps so uncharacteristic for you, you decide you can’t possibly be hearing God right? Therefore, you conclude that thought to be but a passing brain flutter, triggered by a sappy commercial or perhaps last night’s dream.

But then it comes again, and again, and your heart begins to prick as excitement builds. And yet, before you put feet to the thought, another follows and then another as your brain lists all the reasons you shouldn’t do that thing.

It doesn’t really matter what the thing is, does it? It can be something as simple as getting up and getting your spouse a glass of water when you’d rather sink deeper into the couch. Or maybe it’s volunteering to serve in a new ministry, or perhaps it’s writing a check for a missionary family you recently learned about.

If we belong to Christ, each day, I believe, we receive countless promptings from the Holy Spirit to, in some way, live out our faith. But I’ve found, those proddings are often much too easy to ignore.

10686711_10202958489178981_4529210945024416942_n

 

I was a young mom, and though I accepted Christ at a neighborhood Bible club, I was just beginning to grow my faith. It hadn’t been terribly long since I’d been on the streets, and as a result, I lugged around a great deal of shame. And had developed a habit of hiding. Of wanting to step out, but, well, I didn’t. Instead, I went to church, sat in the back by myself, (my husband wasn’t a believer at the time), then, when the sermon ended, grabbed my daughter from the nursery and hurried home.

Week after week, I did this, and week after week, as listened to the sermon and sing praise songs, an odd thought would flit through my brain: You should go to the nursing home.

It was the strangest idea ever. I didn’t know anyone in a nursing home and truly had no reason to go. Besides, I had enough to manage keeping my toddler occupied. And what would I do there? Did nursing homes even allow such a thing–random strangers to come in, and do what? Sit?

No. It was absurd, and so, I shoved the thought aside and resumed my routine: Go to church, sing songs, pray, go home. Repeat.

But the thought wouldn’t go away, and every time it came, a hint of excitement followed, which was as odd as the thought. Why such a thought should bring any kind of emotion at all was beyond me.

But after a month of steady proddings, I went, and brought my daughter with me–only because I had no one to watch her.

I randomly chose the facility, marched inside with a toddler on one hip and a stuffed diaper bag bouncing against the other.

I met Frank that very first day. He was an old, sprite man full of laughter and jokes, and he adored my princess. The three of us quickly formed a relationship, one my daughter remembers to this day. She and I came often, Frank and I chatting about everything from the weather to… well, to be honest, I don’t remember. And it didn’t really matter, because sometimes, oftentimes, presence is enough.

But then one day, maybe two months since our first visit, we arrived to be greeted by one of Frank’s caretakers. We learned Frank had taken ill and refused to leave his room. He wouldn’t see ANYONE.

Anyone, it seemed, but my princess. When he learned we had come, he came out, and we talked, and again, I don’t remember what about, but it didn’t really matter.

Because sometimes, oftentimes, presence is enough.

God had prompted me, for over a month, to do something so simple yet so deeply meaningful–to sit with his dying child.

And I almost missed it.

When I read 2 Thessalonians 1:11, I think of this event.

“…May He [God] give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” (NLT).

May God give us the power to overcome our selfishness, our anxieties and insecurities, our pointless busyness, and everything else that hinders us from responding to His promptings with anything but full and immediate obedience.

 

This verse, and the memory that always accompanies it, touches me so very deeply, I wanted to see what other sweet Christians friends had to say about it. I believe we grow in community, and it’s been fascinating and thought provoking to read my friends’ thoughts on this verse. I encourage you to do the same. You can read others’ thoughts on 2 Thes. 1:11 by following the links below:

Rocking My World: What’s the Therefore There For by Lill Kohler

Soaring With Butterfiy Wings: He Brings the Fruit by Susan Aken 

Thoughts on 2 Thes. 1:11 by Ginger Solomon

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! Can you share a time when you sensed God nudging you to do something that didn’t seem to make sense? Did you respond with obedience? If so, what were the results? If not, what kept you from responding in obedience? Share your thoughts here in the comments below or on Facebook at Living by Grace.

From November 10th-December 10th, we’re going to be encouraging one another to surrender all we are and hold dear to Christ, embracing His call on our life–on our day! I encourage you to join us.

This study will be hosted on Facebook on Tuesdays and Fridays (those participants can interact daily, if they Biblestudyinvitechoose). Discussion questions and conversations will also be hosted here (on Tuesdays) and on Beth’s blog FirstHalfDay (on Fridays). I will also be creating a yahoo email group for those who prefer to interact that way. (Let me know if you’d like me to send you an invite to the email group.)

The study will follow the life of Ruth, as detailed in the biblical book of the same name, using my debut novel, Beyond I Do, as a springboard. If you haven’t purchased the book but long to, now’s a great time! CBD is selling it for a limited time for $0.79! You can get it here.

For those planning on joining our month-long Bible study, on Tuesday we’ll be discussing purpose in trials. Sometimes our calling–the catalyst of great, divinely driven action–can be birthed from great struggle or tragedy.

Our Bible reading: Ruth 1:1-8
Our book reference will come from chapters 1-2 as we discuss what we (you, me) believe drew Ainsley’s heart to the boy she encountered in the Kansas City inner city apartment complex.
Our focus will be: evaluating our past and present hurts in light of God’s sovereignty and grace.
Some questions you can mull over in the meantime:
What thoughts arose as you read Ruth 1:1-8?
We read about Naomi’s heartache but not much about Ruth’s. Why do you think that is?
What are some difficulties Ruth faced as a widow?
Why do you think Ruth chose not, at least from what we see, to voice her pain to Naomi?
In what ways can we see Ruth’s love for her mother-in-law?
In what ways did Ruth exhibit self-sacrifice?
What made self-sacrifice challenging for Ruth?
Have you ever felt God asking you to put someone else first? What about when you yourself were in a difficult or painful situation? When has God asked you to focus on others and not on your pain or trial, and what was the result?
ACTION PLAN: What might God be asking you to do this week?

 

If you’re reading this post right now, God has a plan for you. A glorious, fulfilling plan that can quicken even the most lethargic pulse. One that can give meaning to the mundane and add joy to the most excruciating–or mind numbing–of trials.

I’ve stayed home for over seventeen years now. That’s been 17 years of making beds, doing dishes, and ID-100144935washing stinky socks. Seventeen years of completing tasks most would never noticed and many of which would only need to be completed again.

I must have spent hours playing dolls. Yes, I know, engaging in “floor time” with our children creates priceless memories and deepens the maternal-child bond. I got that, and I was grateful for it. But a grown woman can only burp a plastic doll so many times before her sanity begins to wane.

When our daughter was young, and my days were spent singing lullabies (the same ones over and over) and waiting, in a silent house, for her to awake from a nap, the monotony of it all became unbearable!

I felt insignificant and unvalued, and began to wonder, what if I never made the bed today? What if I let the dishes sit? Extrapolate this out… What if I did nothing but occupy space and take in air? Would anyone notice? Would anyone care?

In other words: Does this--whatever this was at that moment–really matter?

But then one day, an idea hit: What if I used our play time as an avenue for learning? About numbers, colors, shapes, letters, Jesus? And so, I began to count the dolls clothing as we dressed her for the hundredth time. Our Barbies went to church and learned to pray. We formed shapes and created patterns with the Legos, and halved our pancakes at breakfast and sandwiches at lunch.

As we did, as I began to see purpose in every activity, the monotony gave way to excitement. Because the mundane had meaning.

We were created to do, but not just to do; to do that which has meaning. Meaning that will last beyond today.

I love how Paul puts it in Ephesians 2:10  “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things He planned for us long ago” (NLT).

God’s masterpiece. Handiwork. Workmanship. Lovingly, attentively, purposefully crafted, moment by moment, experience by experience, with every trial, setback, and triumph.

All of it has deep and eternal purpose.

Each of us have a deep and eternal purpose, a role to play, one that was planned by our Creator long before we took our first breathe.

Pause and contemplate that for a moment. Throughout our life, from the times we took our first steps to this day and until we breath our last, God has been watching us. Molding us. Directing us.

Leading us from the meaningless and mundane toward the abundant life Jesus promised.

Our job? Keep stepping, with our eyes on our Lord and Savior, in surrendered obedience.

Let’s talk about this. Where are you today? Have you discovered your purpose and calling? If you have, let me ask you–what is the human element? In other words, in what ways are you, right now, using your gifts to reach out to others, encourage them, and point them to Christ?

Look back over your life, evaluating the joys and sorrows, in light of grace. Can you see God’s hand? His molding, crafting, stretching, and guiding? Before I go, I’d like to leave you with a verse, one I wrote out and have sitting on my desk.

“So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of His call. May He give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do” 1 Thessalonians 1:11

So much truth packed in that verse! Whenever I read those words, “worthy of His call”, I can’t help but think of all Christ gave–His very life–to save me. Truly, I will never be worthy of my call, but that doesn’t mean I can’t pursue it with all that I am and have. For His glory, and this is key, for it’s very easy to get so caught up in the call, we soon lose sight of the One who called us, allowing insecurities, pride, or selfish ambition to cloud our view.

I hope to revisit 1 Thes.1:11 in my next post. To my blogging friends, I invite you to join me. As iron sharpens iron, we can all learn from each other, and I’d love to read your perspectives on this verse. :)

LivingbyGracepicWhat are your thoughts on this verse? Do any words stick out to you? Do you have any favorite verses that help you remain focused on the eternal? If so, share them with us! Join the conversation here or at Living by Grace on Facebook. If today’s post sparked an excitement within, I encourage you to join our month-long study on surrender. Find out more here.

Before you go, I encourage you to pray both of the verses I’ve shared this morning. Then, prayerfully listen to this song, making it your heart’s cry to God today.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 790 other followers