“8 Choices” Spring-Summer Study, Chapter 8 “The Mystical Trap”

What You Believe Will Determine How You Live Your Life!

Hey there all you “God’s-Girls of Summer”!

We have come to the conclusion of our summer study, “8 Choices That Will Change a Woman’s Life” by Jill Briscoe and I dare say there has been some change a happenin’ among us, has there not.  In Romans 12:2 Paul writes, “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world.  But be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”  I can’t wait to hear all about the choices God has led YOU to make through this Bible study that have resulted in transformation in your life.  But before that, I have just a few parting words.  I actually just typed “partying words”; perhaps subconsciously I am in need of a party to celebrate the changes God has worked in me… and continues to work on me.

I’m writing to you today, Wednesday, July 14th, which happens to be the ONE YEAR anniversary of my mastectomy; or as I prefer to call it, the “installation of my new breastplate of righteousness”.  Little did I know that when I coined that one that the Lord had inspired it with purpose.  From the get-go I knew He was up to something much bigger than a mere breast cancer diagnosis, and indeed He was.  This was more about my heart; the place in me protected by the “breastplate of righteousness” (Ephesians 6:14).  The past year has been the sweetest dance with the Lord and by far THE spiritual high of my life!  In so many ways, I’ve been sad to gain greater distance from it.  Don’t get me wrong; I do not want to have to deal with cancer again.  But many of the lessons He taught me, and the changes made through this particular instrument in my Redeemer’s magnificent and loving hands, are things He’s only just now starting to help me fully comprehend.  Except for this: He is so very, very sweet! Yes, I’ve known that “God is good all the time” for decades, but to experience His goodness with the intensity I did was something He reserved just for that particular season of my life; wrapping me up in all that sweetness and love from the very moment the “c-word” was spoken to me and never leaving me without it… not for one second.

All that to say that faith in the God sustained me during that season and continues to do so today.

Faith.  If you’re doing the Greek thing it’s pisteuo which means, “trust, believe, belief…” Taking that a little further we see that when the word “faith” is used in describing Abraham (James 2:23) it is expressed a present active participle and actually means “believing”- as if one would be “caught in the act of believing”!  I think that’s cool.  I also think it says a lot about what faith is… and what it isn’t.
You’ve heard the expression, “Put your faith in action.”  It’s one thing to say that you have faith; it’s quite another thing altogether to see faith being lived out in someone’s life or in your own.   Simply put, faith isn’t just something you have; it’s something you actually “do” as a result of what you believe… or Who you believe.  I guess a better way to say it might be: “How you live your life tells others what you really do believe.”

This poses the question: What do you believe? More importantly: What do you believe about God?

Three of the gospels record a conversation Jesus had with His disciples about whom others were saying that He was.  You can read about it in Matthew 16:14-16.  As they walked along the road with Him the disciples commented that some others were speculating Jesus might be John the Baptist or Elijah or Jeremiah.  Then Jesus asks the disciples, “But what about you?  Who do you say I am?”

Girlfriends, this is possibly THE most important question you will ever answer: Who do you say that Jesus is? Because the answer to that question will determine how you live your life; what you do, what you think, how you spend your time, your money, who you marry, how you raise your kids, how your treat people, how you care for the lost, how you care for yourself, etc…  The answer to that question should be characterized in your life.

I remember the very first time I visited my husband’s Sunday school class, BASICS, at First Presbyterian Church Orlando.  I was more than a little hesitant to visit, for a number of reasons.  But mostly that I did not want to be disappointed if he turned out to be just a so-so teacher.  You see I was pretty certain that he couldn’t measure up to some of the rich teaching I’d been sitting under (how’s that for a little arrogant spirit); but he more than over-delivered the Word powerfully that morning.  Though what was so intriguing to me was the was he began the class by switching on his handy-dandy over-head projector (I thought they were extinct) and having everyone stand up, holding their Bibles (and amazingly nearly every one of the 500+ in attendance had one) and reciting the following statement of faith:

This is the Word of God

I believe it is the inspired, inerrant, authoritative Word of God

I believe God is who He says He is

I believe God will do what He says He will do

I believe I am who God says I am

I believe I am to be who God says I am to be

I believe I am to do what God says I am to do

I will hear the Word of God today and I will never be the same!

Well shut my little church-lady mouth!  Sadly, I’d never heard anything quite like that read with such passion and conviction… in church; and it really moved me to think about what I really did believe and if that was my personal statement of faith, too. I copied that statement down and pasted it into the front of my Bible over 10 years ago and have done that with every Bible I’ve owned since.  Yes, I believe every word of it; but more importantly, I believe God, I believe His Word is true and I believe everything He says in it is exactly and enough for me, and I have the daily experience of believing Him.

Dearest hearts, there is only one way to personally know the truth of God and that is through the Word of God; both the Living Word- Jesus, and the written Word of Scripture.  You will never, ever waste your time getting to know God through His Word; the depth of your relationship will increase and your faith will grow by leaps and bounds as you continue to “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”  (2 Peter 3:18)

So, as we close the book on our study, where is your faith?  What do you believe about Jesus?  The choices you make in your life will be greatly affected by your answer to that question!

Thank you Jill Briscoe!  You have challenged and inspired us to make wise choices that will change our lives for the better!  We are grateful for you and the gift God has given you to teach and write with such wisdom and insight!

Thank YOU, darling friends!  It’s been a real treat to share this summer study with you!  We’ve all gone our separate ways, but this study and the blog have kept us connected.  I’m so proud of each of you and so very grateful for your commitment to stay in the Word during the summer.  Keep it up, girlies!  Keep it up!  He is so worth knowing and knowing better! (Ephesians 1:17)

Pressing on in His great love~

Punky

“8 CHOICES” Spring-Summer Study – Chapter 7 “The Misery Trap”

What are You Going to do with What You’ve Been Given?

Fact: Most people on the face of this earth will probably face trials of some kind in their lifetime. Believers are guaranteed it. 

Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”   John 16:33

He said, “…you will”, not “you might.” 

For all of the dissing James and his sibs gave their big brother, Jesus, perhaps he paid more attention to Him than he wanted to let on.  He wrote, “Consider it pure joy… whenever you face trials of many kinds…”

Again, “whenever”, not “if ever.”

Jesus never said, “Come follow me, and I will make you comfortable.”  He said, “…and I will make you fishers of men.”  Fishing is hard work, it’s pretty messy and there is usually the risk of injury or worse.  Fishing will cost you… something

The goal of the Christian life is not comfort, but you’d be hard pressed to see Christianity any other way in the USA.  Oh, we want the salvation that Christ guarantees us, we just don’t want the other part; the painful, difficult, scary or uncomfortable part.  But I am convinced that one cannot be a true follower of Jesus by trying to escape the rough parts, the difficulties, the trials and the sufferings of this life.  Because out of those very things not only is our faith made strong but our ministry is revealed.

Let me say it another way: God made plans for your life; good plans (Jeremiah 29:11-13). He put these plans together for your life before He ever began the first bit of work on this creation we call Earth.  His plans for your precious life have been well thought out and well thought through, down to the last details including blessings and “a future.”

We’ve got to know that.  We’ve got to believe that. 

Therefore, if something has touched your life that was anything less than comfortable, dear one I assure you that it was either part of the outright perfect will of God or the permissive will of God.  Whether you brought the discomfort on yourself or it resulted in some other way, it did not touch you without His divine say so and not without profound purpose coming from it! 

Get this, girls, if He has allowed it, He can use it.  Your place of difficulty is useful!  Try saying that out loud right where you are: “My place of difficulty is useful!  My place of difficulty has purpose!”

He does not allow one single thing to touch your precious life that is of no earthly and eternal purpose.  The greatest fruit of your personal ministry will come from your places of difficulty.  Those things become fruitful and purposeful when we receive them as gifts and opportunities from which we can minister out of; cancer, divorce, financial crisis, addiction, betrayal, death of a loved one, etc.  If you are a survivor of anything, a “more than a conqueror”, if you have had victory in any area of difficulty… sister you turn that around, surrender that to God and start encouraging someone who is going through the same thing. 

The way I see it we have two choices: We can either sit around and feel sorry for ourselves and our “bad luck”, or we can get a spiritual grip on who our God is and how much He loves us and start changing the way we look at and think about our lives!

If you see your life, troubles and all, as “cup half full”, then good for you; if you see your life, troubles and all, as “cup half empty”, then your God is too small. 

But as His follower, the way to see your life, troubles and all, is “my cup runneth over!”  (Psalm 23:5)

Go back through the “big deals” in your life and then fill in the other turning points, etc… Take a look at it all: that’s your place of purpose and your Biblical inheritance… given to you for purpose and for God’s glory!

Now, what are you going to do with what you’ve been given?

  • Read Matthew 25:14-30, The Parable of the Talents.  Most of the time we hear this preached in reference to tithing or monetary giving. As you read it through this time, think about the life experiences you’ve been given.
  • What have you been given that you are using for God’s glory?
  • What have you been given that you are not using for God’s glory?  Why?