Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Spiritual Growth’

(Steve and I are enjoying time with family this week.  I’ll return soon with  new posts.  Meanwhile, I’ll reblog previous ones.  Hopefully you’ll find them meaningful again, or perhaps for the first time.  The following post was first published September 13, 2013.)

Women's Bible Study

“I know we have to persevere and not give up on what we sense God wants us to do,” Melissa shared at Bible study.  “And from the lives of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, and others in the Bible, I know God rarely smooths out  the path perfectly.  But what I want to know is how to proceed.  I’d like steps to follow!”

Heads nodded around the table, mine included.  Wouldn’t it be nice if God laid out for us to see ahead of time step one, step two, and so on toward his perfect plan?

That idea has been circulating in my brain for nearly a week now.  Here are some observations.

1. God values our growth in faith more than our comfort in a revealed plan.   

If it was best for us to know his plan in advance, then that’s what God would provide.  Instead, he allows our faith to be tested, in order to build our character.  That is important to him:

“The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20).

2.  God values the process of spiritual growth, not just the final outcome of a purpose fulfilled.

Times of challenge give us opportunity to develop maturity more readily than times of ease.  What might that development include?

  • Self-discipline–when we tackle difficult tasks.  Granted, the Holy Spirit empowers us (Galatians 5:22-23), but we must give ourselves over to him.  How?  Through frequent prayer, offered throughout the day, consistently asking for his guidance and help.
  • Self-denial–by doing without.  However, the attentive person will soon discover much to celebrate that may have been missed otherwise:  the stunning display of God’s creation, the joy of love and laughter with family and friends, the peace and strength from frequent communion with God.  Suddenly, gratitude flourishes in the heart, and what has been given up doesn’t seem so important anymore.
  • The full meaning of love–when given opportunity to respond in kind ways to difficult people.

None of these valuable traits of discipline, selflessness, and love would fully develop without lessons of experience.

3.  God values the development of our prayer lives–not for his benefit, but for ours.

Jean Nicolas Grou, a Jesuit priest of the 1700s, described healthy prayer as humble, reverent, loving, confident, and persevering.  As we practice those traits in our prayer lives, surely they will overflow into our character, in our actions and reactions.

Patient pursuit, then, is best applied to God’s ways, and then to God’s plan.

(photo credit:  http://www.st-tims-church.org )

Read Full Post »

DSC05030b

When Steve and I moved from South Florida to north of Tampa, we were delighted to see the abundance of live oak trees. Each one reaches wide with graceful, curving branches that outline intriguing free-form shapes.

Live oaks can grow to be eighty feet tall and just as broad over a life-span of hundreds of years.  The key to their longevity is their root system, which reaches down into the soil about four feet, and extends laterally to ninety feet. Such depth and width offers strong support for the tree.

Of course, roots also provide water and nutrients. A mature oak can take in more than fifty gallons of water per day, much of which evaporates and keeps the tree cool.

Such facts give me greater understanding and appreciation for Jeremiah 17:7-8.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,

whose confidence is in him.

He will be like a tree planted by the water

that sends out its roots by the stream.

It does not fear when heat comes;

its leaves are always green.

It has no worries in a year of drought

and never fails to bear fruit.”

Doesn’t that sound satisfying and peaceful? Yet too often I’ve been more like a tumbleweed in the desert—dry, flitting here and there, and anything but peaceful.

Tumbleweed

How do I turn my tumbleweed self into a mature, flourishing tree?

The secret is in the roots. Oak tree roots grow wide and deep; tumbleweeds have none.

I have to send out my roots into the soil of God’s Word. That’s where the nutrients of strength, wisdom, and encouragement will come from. The deeper and wider my knowledge, the more empowered I’ll be to withstand the buffeting challenges of life.

The soil also represents God’s love (Ephesians 3:17-18). I must learn about my loving Heavenly Father and spend time with him in order to know him. As intimacy develops, trust grows.

And when roots grow deep into God’s Word and his love, when we practice his presence, we can remain strong when life turns up the heat…

  • When our kids make foolish choices
  • When the boss’s high expectations ratchet up a few more notches
  • When the paycheck will not stretch another penny
  • When a disagreement becomes an impasse
  • When a decision must be made and the pros and cons swim endlessly in our heads

We express our trust by affirming what we know about God. And we affirm our confidence in him by reviewing his promises–not once a day in a quick morning prayer, but moment by moment.

Roots are continually absorbing water and nutrients. We must do the same by praising and thanking God all day long. Even our concerns can be expressed with praise and gratitude:

“Father, I lift up _______ to you as he looks for another job. We are trusting you to provide, knowing that those who seek you lack no good thing (Psalm 34:10). Our hope is in you because no one who hopes in you is put to shame (25:3). I thank you that he is looking to you, God, and seeking your path. You are a good and upright God; you will instruct ______ in the way you have chosen for him (Proverbs 3:5-6).  Hallelujah!”

As our roots grow deep, our spirits can reach high and strong like live oak branches — in adoration and praise for our trustworthy God.

I am DONE with tumbleweed living!  How about you?

(Photo credits:  www.nativetreesociety.org; http://www.sonoragardensinc.com)

Read Full Post »

Women's Bible Study

“I know we have to persevere and not give up on what we sense God wants us to do,”  S. shared at Bible study.  “And from the lives of Joseph, Moses, Daniel, and others in the Bible, I know God rarely smooths the path perfectly and makes every door open without me even turning the knob.  But what I want to know is how to proceed.  I’d like steps to follow!”

Heads nodded around the table, mine included.  Wouldn’t it be nice if God laid out step one, step two, and so on toward his perfect plan?

That idea has been circulating in my brain for nearly a week now.  Here are some observations.

1. God values our growth in faith more than our comfort in a predetermined plan.   

If it was best for us to know his plan in advance, then that’s what God would provide.  Instead, he allows our faith to be tested, in order to build our character.  That is important to him:

“The Lord detests men of perverse heart but he delights in those whose ways are blameless” (Proverbs 11:20).

2.  God values the process of spiritual growth, not just the final outcome of a purpose fulfilled.

Times of challenge give us opportunity to develop maturity  more readily than times of ease.  What might that development include?

  • Self-discipline–when we tackle difficult tasks.  Granted, the Holy Spirit empowers us (Galatians 5:22-23), but we must give ourselves over to him.  How?  Through frequent prayer, offered throughout the day, consistently asking for his guidance and help.
  • Self-denial–by doing without.  However, the attentive person will soon discover much to celebrate that may have been missed otherwise:  the stunning display of God’s creation, the joy of love and laughter with family and friends, the peace and strength from frequent communion with God.  Suddenly, gratitude flourishes in the heart, and what has been given up doesn’t seem so important anymore.
  • The full meaning of love–when given opportunity to respond in kind ways to difficult people.

None of these valuable traits of discipline, selflessness, and love would fully develop without lessons of experience.

3.  God values the development of our prayer lives–not for his benefit, but for ours.

Jean Nicolas Grou, a Jesuit priest of the 1700s, described healthy prayer as humble, reverent, loving, confident, and persevering.  As we practice those traits in our prayer lives, surely they will overflow into our character, in our actions and reactions.

Patient pursuit, then, is best applied to God’s ways, and then to God’s plan.

(photo credit:  http://www.st-tims-church.org )

 

Read Full Post »

Living Our Days

Gaining a heart of wisdom

SMALL TOWN STRANIERA

My Simple Faith Walk in Italy

Strength Renewed

But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary; they will walk and not be faint. Isaiah 40:31

Colleen Scheid

Writing, Acting, Living the Grace of God

Walking Well With God

Impressions Becoming Expressions

Mitch Teemley

The Power of Story

Heidi Viars

Taking a closer look

Unshakable Hope

"All of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain." (Hebrews 12:27)

(in)courage

Impressions Becoming Expressions