Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Always Being Ready

During times when we are in town, it is not uncommon for someone to come up to us and either make a comment about our dress and/or demeanor or to ask questions about our faith, what church we go to, etc. This has been a learning and growing experience for me!

I love discussing Scripture with others and sharing about the Lord, but sometimes if I am not expecting it and if my mind is preoccupied with other things, it can be a little challenging to know how best to respond or to be able to switch my focus and thought processes to sharing about and/or defending the faith. So each time one of these opportunities arises, I try to learn from it and then prepare better for the next time!

Well last week, we had another of these opportunities . . . Leah and I were in town mailing packages and picking up some business supplies, when a man approached us in one of the stores and asked the question “What church do you go to?” That question opened the door for about a fifteen minute conversation with this gentleman.

Towards the beginning of the conversation, we explained the basics about what we believe, and he shared that he belonged to ‘The Church of Jesus Christ Apostolic’ (There was more to the name, but I can’t remember the rest of it. I looked up the denomination online afterwards, and found that they have some significant doctrinal error . . . in addition to what we had already realized from our conversation with him.)

He seemed really interested to hear what we believed, and a little debative too, which made it interesting! We shared about the gospel for a brief time, and then the conversation turned towards the Trinity and the deity of Christ. This gentleman believed that while Christ was the Son of God, He was not God, but was instead just a great prophet and the first apostle.

We talked together cordially about this for around ten to fifteen minutes asking questions, sharing Scriptures (including some of the ones where Christ Himself testified that He was God), and gently challenging him a bit, before he turned to go. As he left, it was our hope and prayer that something we said might encourage him to question his false belief and then turn in true faith to Jesus Christ.

Once the conversation was over, I began going over it in my mind . . . seeing what I could have said more clearly, thinking of other Scriptures that could have been brought up, what things that he mentioned that would have been good to address, etc. Basically, analyzing the conversation in order to learn and grow from it so that I will be better equipped for the next time as there is much room for improvement!

Since then, I have continued to give all of this a great deal of thought, prayer, as well as discussing it with my family, and have been evaluating my own heart. The Lord has called us as His children and as disciples of Christ, to “always [be] ready” (1 Peter 3:15.) Are we? Are we always ready to defend, teach, and share God’s truth with others? Are we prepared? How can we grow in this and become better prepared and equipped to effectively share God’s truth with others? For we should know what we believe, why we believe it, and then be able to articulate it in an understandable way and with “gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15.)

I came up with several ways to grow in this, and I would love to hear any advice or thoughts that any of you may share! Here is what I have so far . . .

--Read, study, and become very familiar with Scripture

This is one area that I am very thankful that my parents ingrained in me when I was young! How important it is to read the Bible from beginning to end over and over and over, and especially the New Testament. A good goal would be to read through the entire Bible every year and the New Testament twice. The more we read and become familiar with Scripture, the better our recall and ability will be in order to defend it and share it.

--Memorize key Scriptures that explain and teach the basic tenets of the gospel

I am seeing ever more how important this is! And then when the verses are memorized, to use them. To use not simply our own words (“I think . . .”, “I believe . . .”, etc.), but instead, “God has said in His Word . . .” or “Scripture teaches . . .”, etc. (and this doesn’t mean only using word-for-word quotations, but includes explaining what is taught in Scripture.) God’s Word is effective! It is “living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (1 Peter 4:12.)

--Seek counsel from others, and especially older men and women in the faith.

In Scripture, the older are to teach the younger, instructing them in the truths of God’s Word. There is so much to learn from the wisdom, knowledge, and experience of older men and women of God!

--Prepare our hearts and minds in advance for when situations do arise (I think this one is key for me!)

Before going to town or to places where situations such as this can come up, pray and prepare our hearts and expect something to happen. Then if/when it does, it doesn’t catch us off guard or unprepared, but we are equipped both mentally and spiritually for it.

--When situations arise, immediately turn to the Lord and ask for His wisdom and for the Holy Spirit to lead and guide. 

This is vital! For we need the Holy Spirit’s guidance, leading and wisdom, and He can bring to our remembrance His Word and Truth in order to know what and how to share.

--Do mock mental ‘run throughs’ of various conversations that could take place.

Such as, if someone asks about why we dress the way we do, what answer would we give? How could the conversation be turned to sharing the gospel? What about if the Trinity is brought up and challenged, what Scriptures could be used to defend that Jesus Christ was indeed God in the flesh? What if someone says they believe that physical works (baptism, obedience, etc.) are necessary for salvation? How would we use Scripture to accurately show the error in this belief? What questions could we ask to help lead them to see that what they are holding to is not true?

For me personally, there are some areas I am better prepared to discuss than others . . . the error of baptismal regeneration for example. The reason why, though, is from a great deal of study on this topic and writing about it extensively. What if I/we did the same with other, or even all, major tenets of the faith? How much better prepared we would be for when different circumstances and conversations would arise!

Just writing these thoughts down convicts my heart and makes me excited to pursue (and continue to pursue!) these different ideas. I am sure there are other ways to grow in this, too, and I would love to hear any ideas that you all may have!

-Posted by Sarah

Monday, October 28, 2013

Walk as Children of Light

For you were formerly darkness, but now you are Light in the Lord; walk as children of Light (for the fruit of the Light consists in all goodness and righteousness and truth), trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-9

There is such joy as a child of God in knowing that what we were formerly, darkness, we are no longer . . . but we are Light in our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! He has shed abroad His love and His light in our hearts, having redeemed our hearts and transformed us into blood-bought children of the Father. As His children, it but follows that we receive the exhortation that Paul gives not only to the Ephesians, but to us as well, to leave the works of the darkness behind and “walk as children of Light.” 

If we think of our physical lives . . . if we are a teacher, we teach, if we are a painter, we paint, if we are a construction worker, we build. We do those physical things associated with our position. How much more so in the spiritual with being children of God are we to do and be those things reflective of children of God!

To carry this thought further, as we look at the command given in Ephesians, we see that certain aspects of our lives are not singled out as areas that we are to “walk as children of Light” in, but the exhortation given is to encompass all of our life . . . every single aspect is to represent and reflect this Light of Christ. It is to be the characterization of, and foundation for, how we live, act, speak, and think. 

We also find in Ephesians that this walking in the Light is linked with “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” Christ Himself testified that He always did “the things that are pleasing to Him [i.e. the Father]” (John 8:29.) So not only are we exhorted to walk in the Light and to “learn what is pleasing to the Lord”, we also have an example in our perfect Savior that we can follow!

Yet how do we know specifically what pleases our Father? Or in what ways Jesus Christ pleased Him? To find the answer to these questions, we must go to God’s Word which He has given to us. Scripture is the source for all that we need to know about what the Lord desires of us both in coming into a right relationship with Him through believing in Jesus Christ as one’s Savior, and then the consequent obedience and growth in Christ that follows.

As redeemed children of God, it should be our great delight, and not only that, but strong desire, to study out what pleases our heavenly Father and then to obey it. His Word is richly full with commands, exhortations, and wisdom for all areas of our lives. There is not an aspect of our life that cannot be touched, transformed, and influenced by His Word! And as we learn better what He desires of us, then comes the implementation and the striving to walk in obedience to His will, trusting in the Lord and His Holy Spirit to guide, direct and help us.

Pleasing the Lord can be summarized in but one word: obedience. Obedience to all of the commands that the Lord has given to us in Scripture. In 1 John, we are told: 

By this we know that we have come to know Him, if we keep His commandments . . . the one who says he abides in Him ought himself to walk in the same manner as He walked.” 1 John 2:3, 6 

The word “keep” as used in verse 3, means "to watch over, preserve, keep", and basically, "to hold as one’s own." In essence, His commandments become the rule and standard that we hold our lives to and strive to pattern after. 

This “keeping” is in no way a legalistic or business-like endeavor, but this “keeping” of His commandments is a reflection and a fruit of our love for Him. For as Christ says . . . 

If you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” John 14:15 

Not may keep, but will keep. If we truly love Him, we will be striving to obey His Word in all areas of our lives. We will be seeking to walk in the Light as He is in the Light. Having a heart that has as its strong desire to please the Lord in everything and is then putting forth the effort and denial of self, while trusting in the Lord’s grace and strength, to walk in obedience, to truly “walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which [we] have been called” (Ephesians 4:1)

As we seek to walk in this manner, the Light of Christ will be reflected and the fruits of that Light will be borne . . . as Ephesians states: “all goodness and righteousness and truth.” And what is the source of this goodness, righteousness and truth? They come from but one source, and that is God. It is through Him and through obeying Him, that we can grow in and produce these fruits of the Light that bring glory to Him. 

The summation of the passage in Ephesians is a beautiful one . . .

 “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord.” 

As we walk in the Light and in obedience to the Lord’s Word, we are pleasing Him. Isn’t that a beautiful thought? He is pleased when we obey! I am sure many of us can remember the joy that came as children when we received the pleasure of our earthly parents when we obeyed or did those things that we knew that they wanted us to do or that we knew would make them happy. As children of God, we can experience a joy so many times more than this as we seek to please our heavenly Father! 

His eyes are always on us, His heart is desiring us to walk in obedience, He is always there to supply the strength and grace that we need. Let us trust Him . . . let us truly die to ourselves and live for Him . . . let us choose this day to, with our whole hearts, strive to walk in His Light and in His truth, reflecting Him and the fruits of the Spirit, pleasing Him moment by moment as we seek to live our lives in obedience to Him and for His glory.

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma.” Ephesians 5:1-2 

-Posted by Sarah

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Fear of the Lord

Have you ever noticed that no matter how many times we read and study God’s Word, there are always more truths to learn and discover? Always more ways to apply His Word to our lives and grow in Him? I find this especially true when studying individual words and phrases as well as how they are used elsewhere in Scripture. God’s Word is a treasure trove of wisdom and teaching from our heavenly Father to us, and it seems I have but barely scratched the surface of its depths! His word truly is “living and active” and “the lamp for [our] feet and the light for [our] path.

It was during one of these recent word studies that I was amazed and excited with what was found. Hence the writing of this post. :) I hope that the discovery will bless and encourage your heart as it did mine!

When recently going through and studying once again the passages of Scripture that are directed to women, one of the first phrases that came to mind to study further was ‘respectful behavior’ (found in 1 Peter 3:2.) This phrase, as well as a similar one in Titus 2:3, has always intrigued me and has been one that I wanted to refresh my mind on as well as to learn more about it . . . what does it look like? How is it expressed?

Before sharing the findings, here is 1 Peter 3:1-2 as it reads in the NASB . . .

In the same way, you wives, be submissive to your own husbands so that even if any of them are disobedient to the word, they may be won without a word by the behavior of their wives, as they observe your chaste and respectful behavior.” 1 Peter 3:1-2

So often when studying specific verses or phrases, I turn to a Greek interlinear to learn what the text would read in the original language. When looking in the interlinear during this particular study, I found it to be quite different than what was in the NASB. It reads:

“. . . observing the pure conduct of you in fear.” 1 Peter 3:2

It surprised me to find that the literal translation is not “respectful”, but it is instead “fear”! The words had also been rearranged slightly. (The KJV has a more proper rendering as it reads “while they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear.”) This discovery provoked so much thought and further study!

It was found that the Greek word used in this passage is phobos which literally means ‘alarm’ or ‘fright.’ One way it is used in Scripture is to indicate a fear/terror of something, yet through what the Lord teaches in His Word, we know that this isn’t the type of fear that He desires us to have. So what is this fear that is being referred to in 1 Peter? What is found is that this same Greek word, phobos, is also the same word (and its derivatives) that is used in the New Testament for fearing the Lord. Isn’t that fascinating? In essence, as women, our “pure conduct” would be the direct fruit of our fear of the Lord! Our fear and reverence of Him is the foundation and support for how we conduct ourselves . . . and in the context of this passage in Peter, it is what can draw an unsaved husband to the Lord.

Looking in Vine’s Expository Dictionary lent even more insight and conviction to this verse . . .



a)    “fear, dread, terror”

b) “reverential fear” (1) of God as a controlling motive of the life, in matters spiritual and moral . . . a wholesome dread of displeasing Him . . . which influences the disposition and attitude of one whose circumstances are guided by trust in God, through the indwelling Spirit of God . . . the reverential ‘fear’ of God will inspire a constant carefulness in dealing with others in His ‘fear’.


How sobering and convicting this is! Our fear of God is what is to be the influence behind our conduct, our words, our thoughts, our actions, and yes, our behavior. In essence, our fear of God is to influence everything in our lives.

Yet even more than ‘influence’, as Vine's Expository Dictionary expresses so well, it is to be the controlling motive behind how we live our lives and is characterized by carefulness so that our conduct will always be pleasing to our Lord.

Charm is deceitful and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord, she shall be praised.” Proverbs 31:30

-Posted by Sarah

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Living His Word

I have been reading through Deuteronomy as of late, and there is much in this book that has caused me to pause and ponder . . . while directed to Israel, I always find a great deal of personal application as well! One morning this week, these two verses especially spoke to my heart . . . .

You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up.”  Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Some of my personal thoughts that I wrote down after reading this passage were . . . “God’s Word is to be so filling our hearts, so filling our minds, that it pervades our daily life . . . through our actions, our words, our thoughts it is present . . . His living Word in us and working through us.”

Oh, what an aim to strive for!

-Posted by Sarah