In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence (goodness), and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone. The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
2 Peter 1:5-8 (NLT)
This list makes my head spin. I gloss over the words, not absorbing their meaning. So let’s skip the list for now and focus on the statements on either side of it – the instruction and the goal.
In view of all this, respond to God’s promises so that your [full acquaintance with] Jesus will become productive and useful.
‘In view of all this’ summarizes verses 3-4: God has provided everything we need to resist the world and participate in God’s divine nature.
Here’s my paraphrase:
• Believe that God has provided everything we need to live out our salvation through Jesus.
• In faith, begin practicing the goodness (moral behavior) that Jesus modeled while also learning more about God (adding knowledge).
• Exhibit self-control in transforming old thought patterns and behaviors to align with this new knowledge of God’s character.
• Even if these challenging adjustments don’t yield immediate benefits, be patient and persist in godly behavior.
• Increase godly, brotherly love to be love that includes everyone like Jesus did.
• As you grow through the process, your increased awareness of God and deepening relationship with Him positions you to be truly useful and productive to spread His Kingdom.
A deepening relationship with Jesus positions us to spread His Kingdom. (tweet this)
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing, and perfect will.
Romans 12:2 (NIV)
How do we know God’s will for our lives? Three key words jump out from this scripture: conform, transform, and able.
Conforming most often relates to external appearances – looking and acting like others in order to fit in. The scripture says stop trying to fit in to this world because we belong to another kind of world – God’s kingdom.
Transformation involves a fundamental change in our thought patterns which leads to character change. Shifting our thoughts away from the world’s set of standards and toward God’s perspective for living well initiates the ongoing process of transformation.
The world promotes personal happiness through popularity, possessions, experiences and body shape. God says real joy comes from sharing our material wealth and using our time to serve others. Jesus says work hard but don’t strive for status or recognition. He also says that while material wealth provides temporary pleasure, acts of service bring long lasting reward.
We are better able to know God’s good, pleasing and perfect will when we approach life with His perspective.
Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.
In what ways are you conforming to the world?
How can you adjust your mindset to better align with God’s way of life?
Is there a cost to shifting your value system?
Can you foresee the benefit of living in God’s will?
But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Do to others as you would like them to do to you. Love your enemies! Do good to them. Lend to them without expecting to be repaid. Then your reward from heaven will be very great, and you will truly be acting as children of the Most High, for he is kind to those who are unthankful and wicked. Luke 6:27-28,31,35 (NLT)
Do you see the ‘Golden Rule’ tucked in the middle of this challenging scripture about loving our enemies? My ‘be nice to others’ rule falls far short.
Did you notice the part that says ‘so that people will treat you the same in return’? It’s missing because you’ll probably be laughed at for showing compassion toward your persecutor and forgiving the unthinkable. Your only reward is from God. The ‘do unto others’ attitude will be difficult and unpopular. Matthew 7:12-14 describes the Golden Rule as the very narrow, difficult gateway to life – true life, flourishing life, the life God desires for us.
Let’s observe the Golden Rule in Jesus’ final 24 hours. Betrayed by one of his own, deserted by his closest friends, convicted unjustly, mocked by both Temple and Roman soldiers, spit on, stripped, beaten, and nailed to a cross, Jesus said “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. (Luke 23:34)” He did not retaliate with threats or curses, but forgave their participation in his crucifixion.
‘Do unto others’ is the narrow, difficult gateway to true life that includes forgiving and showing kindness to our worst enemy. (tweet this)
How might you show kindness to someone who has hurt you?
You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.
Ephesians 4:22-24 (NIV)
My husband was recently baptized – the full immersion experience. With powerful symbolism, the believer dies to his old self through submersion and rises from water into a new life in Christ. His baptism prompted thoughts about this new life.
In Ephesians, Paul encourages us to embrace our new life in Christ by changing our attitudes about ourselves, ‘to be made new’ by seeing ourselves as God sees us – beloved, freed and forgiven by Jesus, never separated from God, filled with His spirit and power and strength, and many other promises. These attitudes don’t appear instantaneously as one rises from the baptismal water. Viewing ourselves this way can be a process.
The phrase ‘to be made new’ literally means to renovate. Have you ever renovated a room in your home? If so, you know it’s a process. You also know that demolition comes first and often spreads its mess to adjacent spaces. Slowly the desired result emerges.
Likewise, renovating the attitudes we have about ourselves requires some demolition. We need to remove the lies that we’re unlovable or unforgivable or not good enough. The ‘new self, created to be like God’ cannot emerge amid these attitudes.
Put off your old self & be made new. See yourself as God sees you. (tweet this)
What negative thought do you have about yourself?
Does it belong to the ‘old self’ that should be left behind?
Would God call it a lie and replace it with a promise?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)
They warned me.
They said it would happen.
They said I would get so deep in studying the Bible that I would lose my connection with God.
They were right.
You may assume that a seminary student, confirmation teacher, and Bible study leader has a direct line to God. That’s not true.
You may have noticed that I haven’t dropped a Seed since September. That is true, because my blog thoughts often bloom during my devotions and I’ve allowed my studies to consume that time.
But… I signed up for an Advent devotional because God has been whispering to me – calling me to ‘chair time’. The devotional email reminds me to spend time with God, especially because this season is so important yet so busy. I’m hoping the devotions will help me resist the world’s view of Christmas and refocus on its true meaning.
Emmanuel – God with us.
The Creator of the universe joined our lives on this small planet. When Jesus was born, He entered our world at one point in history and that event defines our calendar, our sense of time. There was a time before Jesus, but we now live in a new era with Jesus. A.D. – anno domini – the year of our Lord. That was quite a year!
God is with us.
What an amazing thought, and yet, I need an email reminding me to enjoy His presence.
Do you need an email reminder? How will you include Jesus in your Christmas preparations?
WILL YOU SPEND TIME WITH JESUS THIS SEASON? HE’S HERE AND PATIENTLY WAITING FOR YOU. (TWEET THIS)
There are so many good Advent devotionals. Private message me if you’d like some suggestions.
The angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight – why the bush does not burn up.” Exodus
Ah-ha! The flames appeared from within the bush and the bush did not burn up.
A person ‘on fire’ is enthusiastically passionate about something. You might say I’m on fire for God and one of my goals in writing Seeds of Scripture has been to set your heart ablaze too.
Ah-ha! Only a fire lit from within and fueled by God himself doesn’t burn out.
I can’t light your fire (hee-hee). I can merely let God’s light shine from within me and pray that you will come over and see this strange sight. Are you curious enough to investigate?
When the Lord saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses, Moses!” (Exodus 3:4)
When Moses showed interest, God called him by name. Repeating his name indicated a personal, affectionate voice. God already knew Moses and was waiting for his response. As soon as Moses showed interest, God revealed Himself from the bush.
Are you curious about God? He calls you by name and awaits your response. (tweet this)
Through us, [God] brings knowledge of Christ. Everywhere we go, people breathe in the exquisite fragrance. Because of Christ, we give off a sweet scent rising to God, which is recognized by those on the way of salvation – an aroma redolent with life. But those on the way to destruction treat us more like the stench from a rotting corpse.
2 Corinthians 2:14-16 (MSG)
Have you ever caught yourself smelling like bagels and coffee?
When I meet friends at Blue Moon Bagel Café, I often notice later in the day that I smell like fresh bread. It doesn’t happen in the afternoon when the kitchen is closed, only in the morning when the kitchen is buzzing with baking.
Hanging out with Jesus has the same effect.
When we spend time in His presence or with people who are alive with His Spirit, we pick up His scent. We then emanate His aroma in personal encounters and decisions. Our attitudes, actions and reactions create a scent by which people begin to identify us.
Admittedly, some days we smell more like Jesus than others (I don’t mean needing a shower and some deodorant). Why do we represent Jesus some days better than others? Do we skip ‘breakfast’? Do we need some quality coffee time with Jesus to re-absorb His ideas and reapply the Jesus fragrance?
We absorb the aroma of Jesus the longer we hang out with Him.
Do you know someone who ‘smells’ like Jesus?
How do you think they acquire His scent?
2 Corinthians 2:16-17 continues:
This is a terrific responsibility. Is anyone competent to take it on? No – but at
least we don’t take God’s Word, water it down, and then take it to the streets
to sell it cheap. We stand in Christ’s presence when we speak; God looks us in
the face. We get what we say straight from God and say it as honestly as we
I lift up my eyes to the hills – from where will my help come? My help comes from the Lord, who made heaven and earth!
Psalm 121:1-2 (NLT)
This verse has always inspired me. I love nature and see God revealing Himself in
all of creation. Sunrises, mountain views, any kind of water – lake, river, ocean, even rain – bring peace to my soul, renewal and strength. I lift up my eyes to the hills and feel God’s presence.
So I was surprised to learn that I completely misunderstand the psalmist’s message.
This ‘Psalm of Ascent’ is for pilgrims journeying to the Temple in Jerusalem which sits atop the hill. A clue to what the psalmist refers to as hills (plural) is found in the story of Solomon who builds altars to foreign gods on the mountains east of Jerusalem, east of the Temple mount (1 Kings 11:7). Other kings also build altars to false gods on high places “in every corner of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 28:24).
In this hymn, the worshipers approaching the Temple scoff at the false gods as they lift their eyes to the altars atop the surrounding hills. Then they reaffirm their commitment to the One who created all things, the only God who has the power to help.
Does your help come from the One who can truly help? (tweet this)
Where do you find your help – your strength, peace and renewal?
Do you look to the false gods of materialism, career, popularity and self?
Or do you lean in to the One who can truly help you?
If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is.
John 14:7 (NLT)
My summer was crazy exciting, but I strayed from blogging. The fall routine has arrived and I’m bursting with inspirational thoughts! I don’t know where to begin so I’ll start with Jesus.
I love Jesus and I came to this love by discussing scripture in a small group. I believed in Him my whole life, but my belief didn’t make an impact on my life until I came to know and love Him.
What’s the difference between believing and knowing? Everything.
Belief is a head thing. A decision. We decide Jesus is the Son of God and sign on to follow (most of) His teachings as a good person should.
We don’t follow the ones that are hard or don’t make sense. Many are completely counter-intuitive. They seem unreasonable. We feel vulnerable. We don’t understand why His way is a good idea. But we’re good people because we love others like Jesus did.
Knowing Jesus is understanding His heart. Absorbing every detail of the stories about Him to discover why He modeled humility and abhorred hypocrisy, touched the outcast and insulted the powerful, eagerly taught the hungry crowds but stormed out of the Temple. Jesus is a real person. Not a set of rules.
When we get to know the complete person of Jesus, His teaching makes more sense. Opening our hearts to see the world through Jesus’ eyes leads to transformed attitudes and perspectives. We follow Jesus because we want to, not because we should.
I learned the difference between believing and knowing by reading and discussing the Bible in a small group. Every ah-ha thrilled me as I pieced together the big picture and discovered rich, personal meaning in familiar stories. I had tried reading scripture on my own. I had signed up for online studies but never finished. The assignment and discussion made all the difference.
The shift from believing in Jesus to knowing Him is when transformation occurs! (tweet this)
This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News. God promised this Good News long ago through his prophets in the holy Scriptures. The Good News is about his Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord. Through Christ, God has given us the privilege and authority as apostles to tell Gentiles everywhere what God has done for them, so that they will believe and obey him, bringing glory to his name. And you are included among those Gentiles who have been called to belong to Jesus Christ. For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work, saving
everyone who believes… This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
Romans 1:1-6, 16-17 (NLT)
Good News! You are included among those called to belong to Jesus.
Good News! Jesus is indeed the Son of God, fulfilling more than 300 Old Testament prophesies. God kept his promises.
Good News! Jesus was raised from the dead and seen by more than 500 people who were still living when the accounts were written down. Jesus sightings were verifiable.
Good News! Jesus offers life to everyone who believes. It just takes faith.
Good News! You are called to belong to Jesus! (tweet this)