I got excited about Ephesians 1:3-4 this morning: “All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes.”*
Wow! I am “united with Christ” and “in Christ,” so these verses apply to me. I wrote: “I praise You, God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! I praise and thank and love You, our Father in heaven, because you see me (and all Christ-followers) as holy and without fault, and you have blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm, and You loved and chose us before You made the world. And You are the One who placed us in Christ and united us with Him (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)! May Your name be ever praised!”
I heard a radio preacher say that God has “in-Christ-ed” us. He encouraged everyone to look in Scripture for the results of being in Christ. Besides Ephesians 1:3-4, one of my favorites is Ephesians 2:10: “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”*
*New Living Translation
God is the giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding. They come from Him (Proverbs 2:6). I need to tune my ears to wisdom and concentrate on understanding, cry out in prayer for insight and ask for understanding. I’ll seek and search for them as the treasures that they are (Proverbs 2:2-4). That’s how I’ll prepare my heart to receive God’s Word, His communication to me. I’ll understand what it means to fear the Lord and will gain knowledge of God (Proverbs 2:5).
Then the wicked one won’t have a chance to snatch away what is sown in my heart. Nor will my heart become stony, preventing my roots from growing deep in love and truth. Likewise weeds of worldly cares and riches won’t have opportunity to crowd out knowledge of God and His ways, which would make me unfruitful in His kingdom. (Matthew 13:3-8, 18-23)
Dear Father, giver of wisdom, knowledge, and understanding, grant me these things that I may learn to fear You and be fruitful in Your kingdom. Amen.
(Image from FreeImages.com/kristian stokholm
Luke 8:11, 15, “Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. …15 [T]he ones that fell on the good ground are those who, having heard the word with a noble and good heart, keep it and bear fruit with patience.”
I want to be “good ground,” so when Jesus plants seeds from God’s Word in my heart., I will humbly receive them (James 1:21). Jesus gives me living water—His Word and His Spirit—for watering the plants. As they start to grow. I can nurture them with the plant food of faith that results in obedience. (James 2:17, “Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.”) I will diligently practice applying God’s Word to my life. I need to pull out weeds like anger, bitterness, jealousy, regret, strife, pride, haughtiness, and anything else that interferes with nourishing my soul.
Then these plants in my heart can mature and produce Holy Spirit fruit—love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control.
(Scripture quotes are New King James.)
In addition to this blog, I have started a second blog called “Journey toward Wholeness” in which I share about my experience in dealing with a 4-month bout with anxiety problems. This is a re-blog of my first post there:
From “Journey Toward Wholeness,” https://journey1617.wordpress.com/
“In this blog, I ‘m sharing mostly about the battle I faced when medication problems threw me into a bout with anxiety late last year. Because many people struggle with depression/anxiety, I’m hoping these accounts of my feelings, thoughts, and the help God has given me may benefit someone. [I’ll continue the “Tricia’s Journal Jots Blog” with general posts.]
I’ve had difficulty with depression and anxiety for much of my life. (They often go together.) For me, medicine, counseling, and other therapies have helped. God is to be praised for all the help I received because He is behind it all. He is the source of every good thing. I have tried at times to function without the medicine, hoping that extra Bible reading or more prayer would take care of my problems. But I couldn’t do it. Speaking from experience, I can say that drawing near to God is a wonderful thing, but getting chemical imbalances corrected with medicine can also make a big difference.
I remarked once that God could just heal me, and I wouldn’t need medicine. My pastor reminded me that God could heal my eyes too, and I wouldn’t need glasses, but that wasn’t God’s priority work in my life right now. So I decided to thank God that medicines have been developed to help with the problems I have. I’m also very thankful for the many people who prayed for me and loved me through this most recent struggle.
Pearls develop in an oyster or mussel as a substance called nacre coats an irritant in layers. A grain of sand or bit of shell can act as a pearl starter. As I receive God’s grace in the troubles of life, it can become like the nacre to coat the sorrow and hurt, one layer at a time, creating pearls.
Making pains into pearls in my life takes both Jesus and me. Jesus’ part is to lead, guide, and give grace (wisdom and power) for dealing with life His way. My part is to follow Him step by step, day by day, living for Him and not for myself.
I could choose to go back to my old ways—running from difficulties, wallowing in self-pity, or blaming others. Those and similar actions lead to more trouble, not pearl creation. Or I can determine to humble myself and pray to God, believing the truth that He will hear and help. He will give me more and more grace (James 4:6).
One reason I can count it all joy when I encounter various trials (James 1:2) is that they may be pearl “seeds.” The patience they work in me may be the first layer of “nacre” (grace). The very problem I’m facing may be the irritant that begins a beautiful and valuable pearl.
According to forestry experts, small fires that clear the forest floor but don’t destroy the trees are beneficial. They leave nutrient-rich ash perfect for seeds to sprout and grow.
Like those purifying forest fires, the disappointments and difficulties of my life help me grow. They burn up my thorny pride and my tendency to look to self or others to make my life work (weeds). As I seek God amid the ashes in my heart, He grows seeds of humility and of love for Him and others. Fragrant flowers and fruitful shrubs develop from these seeds to replace the weeds and thorns.
Hebrews 12:11 “Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.”
Isaiah 61:1, 3 “’The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me…to console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes….’” (Both New King James Version)
I read something the other day that triggered a painful memory. I felt sad and angry. But I choose today to wash that recollection with God’s total love for me and for the others involved.
Thank you, Lord, for Your Word which tells me of Your unconditional love for us. You love us when we’re correct and when we’re not, when others approve of us and when they don’t, and when we succeed and when we fail.
So I will receive Your love and allow it to heal my soul. And I will forgive those who offend me because You have forgiven me for my offenses. Thank You for showing me how to deal with this troublesome memory. Amen.
“We love because He first loved us.” –1 John 4:19
“Therefore, God’s chosen ones, holy and loved, put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, accepting one another and forgiving one another if anyone has a complaint against another. Just as the Lord has forgiven you, so also you must forgive.” –Colossians 3:12-13
(Both Scriptures are from the Holman Christian Standard Bible.)