Wednesday, November 30, 2011

First Wednesday of Advent 2011: Submitting to God From the Heart

With our "Modern Day" arrogance it seems that humility is a lost virtue.  Submission is for weak-willed people.

Not so in God's kingdom.  Humility and submission are virtues to be taught and practiced.  These characteristics, humility and submission were a constant in Mary's life style.  It was what enabled her to say courageously, “I am the Lord’s servant,  may your word to me be fulfilled.”  Luke 1:38


Reading for Today
Luke 1:34-38 (New International Version)
 34 “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

 35 The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[a] the Son of God. 36 Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. 37 For no word from God will ever fail.”

 38 “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her.

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It is interesting to note Mary's response to the angel Grabriel.  She believed what he said, she just wanted to know how it would come to pass.  She wondered how this could be given who she was.  She believed and trusted what God's angel told her and what was to come, and then she submitted to His word.

How willing are you submitting to God's will for your life?

Can you courageously say, "Let it be to me according to your word"?

What is God asking of you that you have been unwilling to submit to doing?

With a bowed head and heart submit to God's will.  

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

First Tuesday of Advent 2011: Finding Favor with God

Sometimes when we read the scriptures we read with such familiarity, I think that we miss what the spirit is saying to us.  It is good to pause before diving into the word and pray, asking God for insight, wisdom, and how to apply it to our lives.

Mary had favor with God.  In fact she was highly favored.

I hope as you read through the scriptures today and work through the bible study questions you find a fresh revelation of how God longs to highly favor you.


Luke 1:26-33 (New International Version)

The Birth of Jesus Foretold
 26 In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, 27 to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28 The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
 29 Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. 30 But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. 31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, 33 and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”
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Faith is trusting in God.  From an early age Mary had faith.  She trusted in God.  Her family followed God's word.  They lived God's word.  Rereading the scriptures above ask yourself:

"How is Mary described?"

"What age was she when this took place?"

"How did she respond to the angel?"

Twice the angel Gabriel spoke to Mary and told her

verse 28  greetings you who are highly favored

verse 30  you have found favor with God.

Mary knew and lived God's word.  She had faith.  God's word tells us in Hebrews 11:16 that without faith it is impossible to please God.

Do you want to please God?  Have faith in His word.

Hebrews 11:6 (New International Version)

6 And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

Another example is Timothy.  Timothy knew the scriptures from infancy.  Paul testifies to this fact in 2 Timothy 3:15 (New International Version)
15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. 

What did Timothy do?  Timothy helped the young church develop.  He was a founding father.

Do you want to exhibit faith that is pleasing to God?

What are you doing to cultivate your faith?

Look up the following verses using the link http://classic.biblegateway.com.

Romans 10:17

Hebrews 11:1

How will you begin to strengthen your faith this week?

Monday, November 28, 2011

First Monday in Advent 2011: Living in Humility

Luke 1:5-25 (New International Version)

The Birth of John the Baptist Foretold
 5 In the time of Herod king of Judea there was a priest named Zechariah, who belonged to the priestly division of Abijah; his wife Elizabeth was also a descendant of Aaron. 6 Both of them were righteous in the sight of God, observing all the Lord’s commands and decrees blamelessly. 7 But they were childless because Elizabeth was not able to conceive, and they were both very old.  8 Once when Zechariah’s division was on duty and he was serving as priest before God, 9 he was chosen by lot, according to the custom of the priesthood, to go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. 10 And when the time for the burning of incense came, all the assembled worshipers were praying outside.
 11 Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. 12 When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
 18 Zechariah asked the angel, “How can I be sure of this? I am an old man and my wife is well along in years.”
 19 The angel said to him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to tell you this good news. 20 And now you will be silent and not able to speak until the day this happens, because you did not believe my words, which will come true at their appointed time.”
 21 Meanwhile, the people were waiting for Zechariah and wondering why he stayed so long in the temple. 22 When he came out, he could not speak to them. They realized he had seen a vision in the temple, for he kept making signs to them but remained unable to speak.
 23 When his time of service was completed, he returned home. 24 After this his wife Elizabeth became pregnant and for five months remained in seclusion. 25 “The Lord has done this for me,” she said. “In these days he has shown his favor and taken away my disgrace among the people.” 

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How is Zachariah and Elizabeth described in verse 6?


How is the child-to-be described in verses 14-17?


Do you see yourself consecrated to God?  Are you separated from the world for God's use?


What difference does this fact make in your daily living?


Zachariah and Elizabeth, as well as, Mary whom we will study next; were consecrated and separated unto the Lord.  Their daily life style was consistent.  They read and discussed God's word.  They prayed and worshiped the Lord as individuals and corporately.  They served others.


Life is not easy.  Everyone faces challenges.  Zachariah and Elizabeth were barren.  Mary was a pregnant teenager.  What are you dealing with? 


How do you face the difficult situations in life?


What if Elizabeth and Zachariah had not received the child they had hoped and prayed for?    


They would have most likely continued in reading God's word, prayer, worship, and service.  It was their life style.  A part of their character.  They knew who they were in God. They were upright in the sight of God (verse 6).  


Could the same be said of you?  Do you read God's word? Pray?  Worship?  Serve others?

Sunday, November 27, 2011

First Sunday of Advent 2011: Loving God

I think we all take for granted that we "love God."  Mary loved God.  She loved God with all her mind.  Her whole soul.  Her being.  Do we love God like Mary?  Is it possible to love God in the way that Mary did?  Or, Joseph even?

The author titled lesson one "Finishing The Masterpiece."  Christ cried out on the cross, "It is finished!"  I suggest we all work on finishing what Christ intended for us, a loving heart and full abundant life.

Nurturing a heart of love takes courage, discipline, thoughtfulness, and a surrendering of oneself for the benefit of others, a serving for the betterment of all,
But, that must start within.

How one goes about this is rather like a painter who prepares to create a masterpiece.  There are somethings that you have to go about regularly and be familiar with that will allow you to become accomplished.

Below are four suggestions.  They may seem simple, but they are more than a discipline or a routine.  They are building blocks on a foundation purchased by Christ for a fulfilling abundant life.

*  Reading God' s Word Regularly.  This will get you to know His character.  Allowing the Holy Spirit to lead and guide you through His word will change you from the inside out.

*  Pray Regularly.  A posture of humility.  Prayer helps to bring one's will in alimentary with God's will.

*  Worship Regularly.  God asks us to worship Him both privately and corporately.  It is humbling to revere God.  Humility is a virtue that gives and reveres.

*  Serve Others Regularly.  Serving others is an outward expression of a humble heart.  God first, family second, and others that God intends along your path of life and those you feel lead to assist with your treasure, talent, or time.
Lighting the First Candle

Friday, November 25, 2011

TRANSITIONING

We all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. We were most grateful to be together.  Even though we are at times scattered by distance, we were still together in spirit.  We chatted by phone and the miles just melted.  We were grateful to be together in each others hearts.

Now, we come to a period of time between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  A time for transitioning.  Advent.  It is my hope that many will take the journey this year to prepare their hearts.  Make room for Christ.  Everyday spend sometime in prayer gathered around a candle flame and green leaves.  Recall, mediate, and speak of the others who have gone before us on a journey to find the Messiah and found Him.

I will be sharing my journey.  I hope you will come along.  The text I will be using for Advent this year is a Character Study of Mary:  Nurturing a Heart of Humility by Elizabeth George, Harvest House Publishers 2002.  It is a Bible study that will take between fifteen and twenty minutes each day.  For more information check out ADVENT 2011 PREPARATION a previous blog page with links to other web-sites with good information.

Advent is a happy time of preparing for celebrating Christ.  Make it a joyous time for you and your family by placing the emphasis on celebrating life.  Sing and dance and make a joyful noise before the Lord!

Blessings,
PJ
 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving 2011

“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name. For the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.” 
Psalm 100:4-5 


Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

ADVENT 2011 PREPARATION

WEB-SITES
I usually create my own Advent Protocol.  Check out the variety of web-sites listed below.  There is even an ipad applet for 2011 Advent Season.

http://onlineministries.creighton.edu/CollaborativeMinistry/Advent
http://gbgm-umc.org/global_news/full_article.cfm?articleid=5587
http://year-round-christmas-preparation.com/Christmas-advent-2011.html
http://www.montview.org/2011/11/advent-unplugged-preparing-for-the-holidays-in-a-new-way-%E2%80%A2-december-3           

The Festive Apple: iPad Advent Calendars for2011:
http://www.appletell.com/technologytell/article/ipad-advent-calendars/

CANDLES
Advent candles are usually three purple or lavender, one pink, and one white.  I have seen a variety of different colors.  The colors have meanings.  If you want to assign new colors and/or add more meaning to what you are doing, please feel free to make it your own.  It is a time to gather, reflect, and prepare for the coming of Christ.

READINGS and REFLECTIONS
For information about readings and reflections see the web-sites listed above or Google search "Advent Readings 2011" for other references.  I have some from last year that maybe useful for your meditation.  Check out my web-site http://inkingthepaper.blogspot.com/search?updated-min=2010-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&updated-max=2011-01-01T00:00:00-05:00&max-results=50 .

Advent is a happy time of preparing for celebrating Christ.  Make it a joyous time for you and your family by placing the emphasis on celebrating life.  Sing and dance and make a joyful noise before the Lord!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting Ready For Advent

Advent is almost here and I thought it best to prepare my readers for a journey.  The first thing you will need to do is learn how to study the Bible.  Here is the short version of the Basic Inductive Bible Study I found on http://www.intothyword.org

The basic inductive Bible study questions are the following:

  1. OBSERVATION:  What does this passage say?
  2. INTERPRETATION:  What does this passage mean?
  3. APPLICATION:  How does this apply to me?  What am I going to do about what the passage says and means?
The primary purpose of this method is to teach you how to study His Word in a logical, clear, and concise way. Over the years, we have developed more questions to assist you to more deeply dig out and learn His message.

Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33


We became a ministry and started to teach people inductive Bible study in the late 70's and became a mission's organization in 1988. These studies have been carefully crafted by years of research and application to teach you how to do it yourself! It is our call to help you to understand what is in His Word, to appreciate, comprehend, and to be challenged to grow richer and deeper in your relationship to Christ and to others around you. Now you can create your own impacting Bible Studies so you can learn and teach others what God has to say to all.




The purpose of these articles and essays is to show you the relevance and importance of studying the Bible. See our channels on "Inductive Bible Study" and "Exegetical Bible Study" as well as "Bible Study Methods" for more details on how you can know and apply His Word. In so doing, when you apply God's Word in you and your life, you will be better able to teach it to others too. Also, make sure you check out our main book, Into Thy Word!


It is a simple how to guide to help you dig into God's Word, the Bible. Into Thy Word is geared toward challenging you to learn how to better study the Bible! We seek to teach people to use logic induction, reasoning and good inductive and deductive principles by examining the particulars, facts and essence of a text first before making any conclusions. Thus, to lead a mature, meaningful, fruitful, character driven life for Christ's glory!
The Best Way to get to know the Bible
How well do you know the Bible?
This method is for new Christians to learn how to start out with to veteran Bible Teachers who want to be refreshed. This is an excellent tool to teach others how to learn the Bible.
A Bible Study Method to study and know the Bible personally

The Overview of the Basic, Essential, Inductive Bible Study Questions:

  1. What does this passage say?
  2. What does this passage mean?
  3. How does this apply to me?
The primary purpose of this method is to teach you how to study His Word in a logical, clear, and concise way. Over the years, we have developed more questions to assist you to more deeply dig out and learn His message.


The Overview of the Basic "Into Thy Word" Inductive Bible Study Questions:

  1. What does this passage say?
  2. What does this passage mean?
  3. What is God telling me?
  4. How am I encouraged and strengthened?
  5. Is there sin in my life for which confession and repentance is needed?
  6. How can I be changed, so I can learn and grow?
  7. What is in the way of these precepts affecting me? What is in the way of my listening to God?
  8. How does this apply to me? What will I do about it?
  9. What can I model and teach?
  10. What does God want me to share with someone?
This form can also be used to teach any book of the Bible, even If you are not experienced!
Inductive Bible Study is a method for learning how to know the Bible for all its worth by our best efforts. We do this through learning the tools and skills to help us observe the text, dig out the meaning, and then apply it to our lives.

Advanced Bible Study Methods

Outlining the Bible is the primary means to prepare one to teach the precepts of Scripture in a clear and logical way. This is designed for the pastor, Bible study leader, or curriculum writer to learn how to examine the text and then draw out what is there in a logical and systematic way.

This method of studying the Bible is for people wanting more in depth information in order to prepare lessons or sermons. Or perhaps you want to dive into the riches of God's most precious Word personally; this method is for you too.
      It is God who is at work in you, both to will and to work for His good pleasure. Philippians 2:13
For more in-depth Bible Study Insights see our "Inductive Bible Study" and "Exegetical Bible Study" Channels.


See http://www.intothyword.org for more information about how to study the Bible.


The text I will be using for Advent this year is a Character Study of Mary:  Nurturing a Heart of Humility by Elizabeth George, Harvest House Publishers 2002.  It is a daily study that will take between fifteen and twenty minutes.  I hope you will join in the study of Mary.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

PREPARE

Like many this time of year we are preparing for Thanksgiving, Advent, Christmas, and the coming New Year.  With this in mind I can now understand why the holidays can easily overwhelm a person.

Take a moment and breathe.

Ponder or meditate on these simple sentences as each holiday approaches.  I hope you will be more relaxed, refreshed, and renewed in spirit.  Giving to and serving others will add to the joy that flows from deep within.

Give thanks with a grateful heart.


Prepare yourself for Christ's return.


Celebrate His coming.


Have a Happy New Year 2012. 

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Daisies are flowers that always brings a smile or two.
I caught these before the snow flew.
I particularly like the way the light bounces off the petals.