Choose Each Day: God or Self?

I started a new plan today. I’ve been feeling convicted for far too long to get back into my bible reading and study habits. This plan’s title stuck out to me as it hits directly home with my habits. Here’s a transparent, ugly, generalized view of my typical day:

– Wake up, check social media and news, what happened in the world and how will it affect me?

– Drive to work or begin work from home (I’m beyond blessed to be able to choose where I work from each day, only God could do this for a poor kid from Mississippi). Do I choose a sermon or biblical podcast to listen to on the commute or while I complete admin work? Hardly ever, lately. It’s either news, some worldly topic I’m interested in or music (and rarely God-glorifying music).

– Work all day, maybe get a lunch, interact with a few other self-professed Christians (in unintentional ways) but God, Jesus or anything related rarely ever comes up. Oh, I’m part of the Christian diversity group at my work but never go to our meetings or functions, another “check” in my own pathetic Christian box that I’m not proud of.

– Drive home, pick up kids from school. Work until about 6pm usually, dinner gets made miraculously from my wife (the miraculous part is that she’s still with me, still serves our ungrateful family and whips up the most delicious food, tailor made for all of our preferences (vegetarian, some don’t like this or that, she customized it all and eats last)). Needless to say, we don’t deserve her and she deserves way better but we are too busy thinking of ourselves. The ONLY thing we do that forces us to realize that there are others in this world is that we eat at the table, no tv and no devices although we slack on the no tv sometimes just to break the uneasy silence of no one really wanting to talk about their day unless it’s for the most selfish reasons (me, I, me, I, etc).

– Strict bedtime curfew of 8:30pm. The kids beg for some TV time since they have smart TVs in their rooms (big mistake if choosing spiritual walk with God, easy solution when choosing self). I bend and approve just to get the whining to stop. I turn on American Ninja Warrior for my 13 year old son and Austyn & Ally for my 11 yo daughter. I justify my actions by committing to a 30 minute limit (which I often forget because I get so wrapped up in my own comfort of not being bothered by them for the night) and thinking to myself, “well, there’s probably worse stuff they could be doing or watching.). They typically stay up past the time I would’ve cut off the TV judging by their grogginess and unwillingness to want to get up. Now I’m feeling guilty and likely stayed up too late myself due to my own desire to escape from the world…TVs in bedrooms I have to say are a huge regret.

– Now I’m in bed with my wife and 3 yo son, we do the co-sleep thing which I would never do if it were left up to me and my worship of self. Thank God for my wife and her heart because I deep down know that this nurturing produces compassion and kindness (and probably prevents us from having 2 dozen more kids). But this also produces a bit of dependency where the child is dependent on the need for us, which feeds into my ego. The child does have a bed at the foot of our own bed but I can count on one hand how many times he’s slept in that bed, and that’s ONLY because we put him there after he fell asleep elsewhere.

Well, I think that’s enough doom and gloom to paint the picture as to why I need more of Him and less of me. When it comes to gatherings of my fellow church friends and Christians, I try to wear the costume of a serving, unselfish, read-my-Bible-3-times-a-day Christian but I don’t think anyone buys it. My friends are way smarter than I am and can’t detect the lack of authenticity a good 2 miles away at the very least.

Since putting my faith in Jesus and professing to be a Christian, those first few years seemed to go quite well. I was on fire for God, read my Bible very often, participated in just about every study I could find and really felt good about my “walk”. Then I became confident I knew what I needed to know about God and didn’t think I needed any further study when, realistically, it was the equivalent of a 4 year old going to pre-School and, after finishing the first day, was convinced they had enough education to be independent and no longer require any further schoolin’. That story can be summed up in one word, foolish.

Now, during the midst of all of that journey (and this one too), one isn’t aware of the mistakes and damage that they are doing, at least, not to the full, realistic extent. This is one of Satan’s most useful tools, deception.  The past few years, I’ve known I need to do better, that what I was doing was not the life God wanted me to have but, it was all about me and those minuscule milliseconds in time where I would turn my attention and actions to Him, wouldn’t be noticeable to a flea.

So, here I am for the great I AM.

God did the unthinkable to the undeserving and kept me alive long enough to open my eyes to Him as well as bring my focus back TO Him. Death at any time in between might’ve meant a trip to hell for eternity or at the very least, a lifetime of explaining, guess we will eventually see in the future.

But, for now, through grace, I have been given a slap on the head and a spark back in my heart! Through actions that take away from me and focus on service and giving, I have been re-energized! Music, children and outreach ministries have all been impacting me as I serve and leading with a small group of fellow believers had just all been stoking the ashes and keeping the possibility of a raging fire alive! Thank you, God, thank you, Jesus, thank you to the people in my life, my family, my pastor, anyone that helps encourage as a Christian, thank you!!

Now, on to this study. It’s a 3 day study from YouVersion titled, “Choosing Each Day: God or Self – http://bible.com/r/2o3

I figure even I can do a 3 day study so I’m giving it a go, starting small but having bigger plans in mind. I really want to try to keep this study a bit streamlined, not overthink what is being spoken to me and just write down simply what comes to me right out of the gate…let’s begin.

Scripture: Joshua 24 1-15

SWORD

What do we learn about God?
God is faithful to His seevants, he will lead you to victory.

What do we learn about people?
People are weak, we will turn and fizzle out easily.

Is there a command to obey?
Fear the Lord and serve Him with all faithfulness! Joshua 24:14

Is there a command to follow?
With everything, every day, CHOOSE who you are going to follow.

The fire is lit!🔥

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SWORD: John 1:29-34

John Testifies About Jesus

I really enjoyed studying this passage and found that the more and more I chipped away at the surface of these verses, the more and more wisdom and self-discovery I realized. Here are some notes I took on verses 29-34:

What does this teach us about God?
-Before Jesus had done anything of note he is singled out as God’s sacrifice. Before he had healed, performed miracles, preached & taught. His mission and purpose was laid out for all to hear.
-In Genesis there was a lamb for a man.  In Exodus there was a lamb for a family.  In Leviticus there is a lamb for a nation.  In John its the lamb for the world. (I didn’t come up with this but am borrowing it…wish I could find the original source).

-A Lamb: tenderness, loving, kind, gentle

-THE lamb: uniqueness: there is only one. No one else like him, only way to heaven/essential for salvation.
-v34: Jesus is God’s chosen one.
What do we learn about people?
-John knew his place, his position, his purpose. John cleared the path, showed people their sin and then revealed the solution to their sin.
-We can prepare the path to God for people like John did. Testify, tell others but let’s not forget our place, position and purpose.
-Be bold in your proclamation, look at John, did he “look” like a “model” citizen
Is there a command to obey?
-Believe in Jesus as the one, our messiah
Is there a command to follow?
-Testify, tell others
– Obey, believe and have faith

Sharpening my SWORD

My pastor, Peter Horn, introduced us to a new Bible study method called SWORD. It’s not the first time I’ve tried it out with my daily reading but it was a great reminder to try a few different methods as part of my daily Bible reading to get the most out of the Bible and to continually keep things “fresh”.

I wanted to give it a try with my daily Bible reading of which I’m currently following the “Essential Jesus” reading plan through YouVersion. This is a great, 100 day plan that studies passages about Jesus.

So here’s the outline and answers that I got out today’s reading. I encourage you to watch or listen the video/podcast here as it does a great job of explaining what this is all about. I plan to incorporate this method, along with SOAP that my pastor taught me (thank you!), and study the Bible a variety of ways, whichever direction God is leading me!

Scripture reading of the day: Luke 2:41-52

o What do we learn about God? That God is in control, we are safe in His house.

o What do we learn about people? People are the reason we are too quick to assume the worst and not immediately trust that God is taking care of His people.

o Is there a command to obey? Trust God.

o Is there an example to follow? Spend time in God’s house and you will be safe. God is the great provider and will give all that we need.

SOAP Day 265 – Sealed

S: “And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory.” (Ephesians 1:13-14, NIV)

O: God’s grace is overwhelming. For those that believe in Him (Jesus), we will inherit the greatest treasure we can’t even imagine (it’s beyond our comprehension). From the point we accept Jesus and are filled with the Holy Spirit, we are truly His possession and cannot be bought.

A: I belong to Him. He is my saviour and has given me guidance, wisdom and the ability to share the gospel, time to start living and representing the way I should be.

P: Father God, thank you for your grace and acceptance of us. Even though we murdered You on the cross as you knew we would do, You still gave us the key to heaven if we just accept it. I can’t express my love enough except to give You my heart fully and completely, I am Yours, use me for Your purpose. Amen.

SOAP Day 263 + SWORD

S: “He will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure” Isaiah 33:6 (NIV)

O: Every day there are people, books, tv shows, etc. telling us that they have the answer, the key to happiness, success, etc. This verse is a reminder to not take your sights off of God…He will provide everything you need…from wisdom to happiness to success, He can do it all (in less than 3 easy payments to boot)!

A: I want to seek God with everything, for everything and keep my sights on Him. I also am learning that “fear of the Lord” is not to be afraid of Him, but to respect and honor him. I liken it to my fear of electricity (ha), sure, it can hurt or kill you if you’re not careful with it, that’s why you have to respect it, treat it carefully and it will brighten your day (pun intended) if you treat it properly.

P: Father God, you are my foundation, you are everything to me. I welcome you into my heart to come and shine Your light and wash out the darkness, the sin and the evil that exists in man. Fill me with Your wisdom and grace, pour out of me in my day-to-day thoughts and interactions so that I may help lead others to You. In Jesus name we pray, amen.

BONUS: My pastor taught us the Sword Bible study method, so I’m going to try it out here, please bear with me 🙂 If you’re not aware of what this is, please watch the awesome sermon, “Stop Going To Church and Start Being The Church” here: http://www.hcbcleander.com/pages/page.asp?page_id=173099&programId=120017

The Sword Bible Study Method

o What do we learn about God? That God is our everything, our life source that, when we fully depend on Him, true life change occurs.

o What do we learn about people? That no man can give us everything we need, whether knowledge, guidance, protection, there is only ONE.

o Is there a command to obey? Fear the Lord, Respect the Lord and receive his grace.

o Is there an example to follow? From what I understand, this verse is an address to Hezekiah (king at the time) but is also paralleled in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”