Reading vs. Living

This is a guest post from Bethany. She is a senior in college studying History and World Religion. Right now it is her ambition to work in the missionary field. I am very proud of Bethany for making her parents’ God, her own.

The other day my dad came to ask me if I would do a post for his blog. Now at first when he asked I was like absolutely not, what do I, a senior in college, have to say. God had other plans though. I felt I needed to write this piece, not because I am an expert or because I have figured it all out, but because I have messed this up multiple times and I know what it is like to ignore what He is saying. I have also seen the amazing things that He can do when we do listen.

God wants us to prosper. Now this doesn’t mean He wants to make us all millionaires, but it means He wants us to improve and grow in all areas of our lives. It says in Matthew 7:7-11 how God will give us good gifts, even better ones than our earthly fathers can. He knows what we need and what we desire.

Now one would think we would trust a father who wants us to prosper and who wants to bless us, but we don’t. We ignore what He is telling us and ignore the good gifts He has already given us. We desire to follow Him, but we don’t do anything to do so. I have seen many believers with passionate hearts to love and follow the Lord, but then I look at their lives and something doesn’t match up. They say they love God and will do anything for Him, but then they are unhappy and broken. God isn’t a god of bondage and brokenness. He is a god of healing and freedom. This begs the question of what is happening.

How many times have you read the same passage in your Bible? How many times will it take before you really see it? I have listened to people go on about how God has convicted them on something, but then I watch them continue to act in the same way. They talk about Matthew 6:5-8 which warns us about being a hypocrite in prayer. The Pharisees would stand out on the corners and pray so that they could be seen by others. The same person who explains they have been convicted of this is seeking my praise on their prayer life. I may be wrong, but didn’t God just convict them of this. I have seen this in my own life, reading Matthew 6:12,14-15, about how we must forgive our debtors or God will not forgive us. I have read this numerous times, but I convince myself it can’t be talking about me. I make excuses, “Well that person really hurt me so I don’t have to forgive them” or “They deserve my unforgiveness because of what they did.” These are lies that I convince myself of because I don’t want to forgive. I value myself as better than them not realizing that I have also sinned. I don’t deserve the forgiveness God grants me, but He still gives it to me.

When reading the Bible, it is easy to put distance between ourselves and what it is saying. It is easy to do our morning bible study and walk away never thinking about what we just read. God didn’t intend for this. The Bible is not just another book on our to-read list. The Bible is meant to change our lives. Hebrews 4:12 says, “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” This is something powerful we have been given. Are we going to waste it?

The next time you sit down with your sword in your hand, don’t just read it, but allow it to change you. A key to growing with God is your heart position. Go into it open to what God has to show you. Be willing to be changed. It may be uncomfortable, but it is worth it.

Now with anything remember to pray. We are human. This means we will mess up and we will continue to miss things, but it doesn’t mean we have no hope. Luckily, we have God and James 1:5 says He will give wisdom generously to those who ask. So start asking. Let God change your life and take action with what He shows you. God won’t force you to choose Him. He won’t force you to answer His call, but remember this is a father who wants to give you an abundance of good gifts. Start living the Bible and you will be shocked at what you find.

I pray for all of us as we open our hearts to your will. I pray the next time we open our bibles that we see it in a new light. I pray we start acting on the things we see and start living a life that is yours, in Jesus name.

I Have Doubts

I sometimes get this nagging in my thoughts. It’s as if I cannot reconcile what I perceive as true with my religion. They just don’t want to mix into the world I call reality. There are subjects and situations that rattle my faith a bit. Some even seem like contradictions to the things I believe. It makes me wonder if I have it right. Do atheist have it more worked out than Christians? I don’t think so. Here is where faith goes to work. Matthew 17:20 “…if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, move from here to there and it will move, and nothing will be impossible to you.”

There are a few things in life that I don’t understand. Things that would by themselves cause me to leave my religion as a whimsical experiment in futility. However, compared to the myriad of proof for the existence of God and the deity of Jesus, these few things pale in comparison. As an example, Charles Darwin’s life was rocked to the core when he wrote “The Origin of Species”. He lost his faith based on his failure to understand truth. He simply could not reconcile his theory with that of the current churches belief. Darwin’s mistake was that he never considered that there might be other explanations to his new understanding and ignoring the myriad of proof to support faith in a God that transcends the church of man. He lost his faith based on his inability to reconcile the things he had been told and what he knew as true even though God’s truth was staring him in the face.

2 Corinthians 4:8 “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing.” When I am presented with something I cannot explain that challenges my faith I don’t panic. I remember the myriad of things that far outweigh my limited understanding. My faith is more than what my church tells me it is. It stands on the repeated promises God has fulfilled, not only in history but proven in my own life and others. This type of challenge to my belief is good. It forces me to reconcile what I think I know with truth that is God’s alone. I need to be reminded that God exists and I am not Him. Deuteronomy 29:29 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” For now I will try to be content with what God thinks I’m ready for and trust He has these things I don’t understand in His good hands.