Friday, December 13, 2013

Laboring over God's Word

Recently, God began to challenge me about being diligent in my study of His Word. I had my regular daily Bible reading I was doing, and I just recently had begun my Bible memory again, but I was not really doing anything to actually study God’s Word.
The Lord began to direct me to do something I had not done in a long time, and that was to select a book of the Bible and read it through daily. In doing this, I would become familiar with the book, and God would teach or confirm what He had taught me every time I read it!

My first book to read daily was James, and I am currently reading through Romans on a daily (or bi-daily) basis. James is a very practical book for daily living in Christ Jesus, and Romans is wow! Romans is such an amazing picture of God’s love, mercy, grace, and sovereignty!

I find that when I read a book over and over, God begins to shed new light on different areas and passages. I get so excited to think about how He began to show me lessons that linked multiple passages together, and also how He revealed the meaning of words or confusing passages without the use of a concordance or commentary! When I read something I did not understand, I would pray for wisdom and clarification, then read it again and continue on. Sometimes it takes a day or two, sometimes a couple weeks, but God has always clarified His Word through His Word. Isn’t that amazing?

I find that many times I tend to depend too highly on the resources of other people to show me how to search out and through step-by-step directions, understand God’s Word. But what God intended was for His Holy Spirit to teach me about His Word through His Word. I’m not saying I should never read inspirational or Bible study books, because many times they are wonderful tools and give me great encouragement in my walk with the Lord. I should just be careful to not allow them to shape the way I study and search out God’s Word for myself.

I know I was guilty of thinking that I needed help to know how to study God’s Word and to understand what He was teaching me. God has since shown me that He indeed is all that I need in order to understand what He has written to me. After all, one of my favorite verses says so!

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matthew 6:33)

How guilty I am of complicating my relationship with God! He makes everything so simple, just seek after Him, rest patiently in His love, and He’ll sort everything out in the end!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"There's Beauty in Every Swamp"

Here is a pastel painting that I recently did that I thought I'd share with you. I have just pulled out my pastels again and am really starting to work on improving my technique. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't! :)

After I finished this picture, I was standing there looking at it, and I began to see a different picture. I thought about how this picture reminded me of our lives.

There are times in our lives when all around us is swampy, sinking ground. We get discouraged, tired, and frustrated. But no matter where we are or how dark the “swamp” gets, we can always look up and see the sun (God), beaming encouragingly through the dark canopy of trees. If we take the time to look hard enough, we can see the direction the sun is, and use it to lead us out of the “swamp”.

God will always lead us through our trials in life. After God brings us through, we’ve only to look back and see that yes, it was a swampy area in our lives, but there is beauty in those trials that only God can bring. We don't need to concern ourselves about how difficult the trek was, or how dirty and bogged down we had become, but simply look at the beauty that now is. All because of that swamp God brought us through.