Monday, July 29, 2013

Searching For Contentment

I found a new verse that I absolutely love. Hebrews 13:5

Believers are instructed to free themselves from the love of money.
They are to be content with what they have.
Believers are to do this because God promised to never leave or forsake them.

This is directly opposite of a consumerist culture, but it reaches my yearning to be content and it reassures me that God is with me.

Money won't bring contentment. In fact, money increases stress. People who have a lot worry about thieves and if their friendships are true. Ecclesiastes 5:10 confirms this. If you love money, you'll always want more. If you love wealth, you'll always want a higher income.

Stuff won't bring contentment. In fact, stuff increases stress. People compete with the Jones, worry about thieves, and show off.

One reason why I love the idea of minimalism is because it reduces the stuff in my life. It reduces the money I spend (why get more stuff??). It frees me up to do things I love.

My hubby and I are searching for the path to do missions. Every time I look at buying clothes, in order for me to buy it, I have to want to carry it overseas. If I don't like it enough to take it overseas, I don't need to buy it.

For a while, I was snatching up every free kindle book that I could snag. I didn't consider if I wanted it or would read it, but if it was free. I was getting multiple emails a day about free and cheap kindle books. I would download a hundred books at a time. I ended up with 1500+ books. It caused stress in my life. I would get overwhelmed when I wanted to read a book. I would skip over books that I just wanted to brag about. "Yeah, I sorta have the Gettysburg Address and the Constitution on my kindle." I slowly started to analyze my books and cut down on them. I took drastic measures. I cut out all series (because only the first book was free) and all books that I didn't get hooked on the first chapter. Books that swore went bye-bye. It turns out cursing books makes it harder for Liz not to curse. I'm down to 480 books, but over 150 have been read by me (and others are my Sunday School & Bible Study lessons).

How do you search for contentment? What things do you add to your life to become more content? What things do you cut out to be more content?

Friday, July 12, 2013

Hidden In My Heart

Memorization can be hard and intimidating. You can ask any actor, any student, or anyone else. Yet memorization is worthwhile. When I hear stories of how some people have memorized entire chapters (and even books) of the Bible, I sometimes think they must somehow be superhuman. Memorization of that scale is too difficult for ordinary folk, such as myself. This thinking is wrong. It's safe to say that I am motivated to write this post due to my recent reading of a book call 100 Bible Verses Everyone Should Know by Heart by Robert J. Morgan. I highly recommend this book and I’ve only read 60 of its 260 pages.

Why I wrote on this topic:
1. Memorizing Scripture is something every believer should do, regardless of their age, gender, nationality, or any other factor.
2. Memorizing Scripture is a Biblically-based practice.
We should memorize Scripture because:
1. God wants us to have it on our hearts.
2. God wants us to meditate on His word.
3. The Bible gives good reasons
4. God is writing His words in our hearts and mind. i.e. when we memorize Scripture, we are working alongside God.

What the Bible says:
1. Have it in our hearts: The Word is to be on our hearts. Fix them on our hearts (and minds). Store His Words in our hearts. To the Jews & Messianic Jews, Deuteronomy 6:4-9 is very familiar because it is quoted typically at least once a day. It is known as the Shema (for the first word in Hebrew is Shema which means "Hear"). We are told in this passage to love God, keep His commandments on our hearts, teach them to our children, discuss them, and more. You can learn more about the Shema at Hebrew4Christians.
2. Meditate on it: We are told to speak of the Law, meditate on it, so we may follow it. Those who meditates on & delights in the law will be blessed.
3. Why we should memorize: 1)We are to think about things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, praiseworthy things. What better meets this criteria than the word of God? 2) All scripture is from God and useful for many things. If you don't have a physical Bible are you still equipped with God's word? 3) We hid God's words in our heart, so we won't sin against God.
4. We don’t memorize without aid: God helps us with memorization. God puts His law in our minds & writes it on our hearts.
-Put verses to music. It's easier to memorize lyrics and a lot less intimidating to boot.
-Put it to motions to help prompt you.
-Practice. Invest the time to do your memorization properly.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Living Peaceful Lives

Have you noticed that we tend to find verses that support our views and gravitate towards them? Have you noticed that we tend to downplay, ignore, or rationalize away verses that we don't like?

Well, it is sometimes not a very popular viewpoint to encourage believers to pray for elected officials whose views believers disagree with. It's sometimes not very popular to encourage believers to live quiet and peaceful lives. These views are Biblical, however.

1 Thessalonians 4:10-12-Paul instructs us to live quiet lives, mind our own business, and work with our hands, to win the respect of outsiders and not be dependent on others. Romans 12:18-Paul instructs us to live in peace with everyone, as much as we can. Hebrews 12:14-Paul tells us to live in peace with everyone and to live holy lives. 1 Timothy 2:1-4-Paul tells us to petition, pray, intercede, and give thanks for kings and those in authority, so we can live peaceful/quiet/holy/godly lives. Hebrews 13:17-Paul tells us to trust in our leaders and submit to their authority, so we will make their work a joy, not a burden.

When I challenge you to pray for our leaders (church and government), notice that the scripture says pray *for*, not pray *against*. Praying that God will smite the leader or that God will change the leader's views to match your own is not praying *for* them, it's praying against them. Praying that God will guide their decisions, speak to their hearts, and show them His way to solve problems, is praying *for* your leaders.

Living quiet, peaceful, hard-working lives will attract the notice of officials. They will notice that those Christians aren't causing problems and those Christians are doing radical things like helping the poor, widowed, and orphans (which helps out the government). They will notice that those Christians aren't protesting every move that they make and causing more problems for them to deal with. And pretty soon, they will start asking "Why? What's so different about those people who call themselves Christians?"

"But I don't agree with the choices my government is making."

I'm pretty sure that the early believers didn't agree with the decisions the Roman government was making (such as killing Christians in gruesome ways). The Romans, Hebrews, and 1 Timothy passages mentioned above were written during the reign of Emperor Nero...You know Nero? The guy who had Christians torn apart by dogs? The one who crucified Christians? The one who used them as human candles during the night [That claim needs a source site to verify it]?(Another source). An extreme anti-Christian persecutor?

If the early Christians were to live quiet/godly/peaceful lives, praying for and submitting to their leaders (including Nero), I'm sure that Christians in the U.S.A. (where we have the freedom to practice our religion, even though other people practice other religions & even if the government is not naming Christianity as the state religion) can do the same.

Our God is a powerful God. One day, every human will stand before Him and answer for their deeds. He sees the injustice in the world. He has a plan to help: it's called "His people." We are to care for those on the margins of society. Yet, we aren't to try to overthrow our government, instead we are to live peaceful lives and that is what will get noticed.

I challenge you to ask God how you're doing on this. To meditate on these verses. To listen for God's voice in what to do. God speaks with one voice.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Reading Through Messianic Liturgical Eyes

I was told that the Jewish history of Christianity can be interesting, informative, and beneficial for believers. So I started doing some research into Jewish (and Messianic Jewish) liturgy to see what their ways of Bible Study were.

Weekly Readings Each week, something from the Torah (first 5 books), Haftorah (rest of the Old Testament), and Brit Chadashah (New Testament) is read. The benefit of following the weekly readings is (when you go to a Messianic Jewish service), most people there will have done the reading and the sermon will be on the reading as well. Sometimes, I gravitate to my favorite passages and ignore some of the harder passages, but this method of reading helps to correct that human tendency.

Psalm Readings For the Psalms, you have two choices, you can cycle through them in a week (20-30 Psalms per day) OR you can cycle through them in a month (4-9 Psalms per day). There is beauty in the Psalms and a great many emotions that we can relate to.

You may be asking yourself, "Why is this important, Liz? Why should I learn about the Jewishness of Christianity?"
 It's important to study this for several reasons.
1) Jesus was a first-century Jewish rabbi, following Jewish customs.
2) The Old Testament was originally in Hebrew/Aramaic. When things are translated, messages sometimes change.
3) We are grafted into the Jewish tree. God didn't just burn down that tree and plant Christians in its place. We are in-grafted and can just as easily be cut out.
4) The Bible is seeped in Jewish culture, traditions, history, and idioms.
5) Jesus didn't say "you don't have to follow the law and traditions" but rather, He said "here's a summary of the law that's easier to remember and apply." (see the Sermon on the Mount-Matthew 5-7).

There may be benefits to studying the Bible through Messianic liturgy and weekly readings. Are you willing to try it?