Conscious of God

man in black jacket near woman in white jacket surrounded by flowers

 

The oncologist said, “You always have such a great attitude. Lots of people don’t.  I mean, I understand a bad thing is happening and it’s normal to be unhappy about it. But you always have such a good attitude.”

Her comment sent my mind immediately to a verse I have contemplated much this fall,  1 Peter 2:19. “For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.” The verse has been swirling around in my head. What does it mean to be conscious of God? How could just being conscious of God help us? It’s such interesting wording.

When I first read it, “Being conscious of God” seemed to be a very vague statement, but now I think it’s just the opposite. It is being in a place where the very specific and concrete things you know about God are so much a part of you that that truth—that consciousness of God–supports you in difficult times.

Peter has reviewed those truths in 1 Peter; simple truths that make a radical difference in our lives. Throughout his letter, he drives home the truth that we are chosen by God. Are we conscious of that? I recently met with a woman who was literally lifted out of a puddle of defeat, fear, and hopelessness by remembering this one truth: she was chosen by God! That choosing is permanent, imperishable, reserved. Peter says we can rejoice in that one solid truth even if right now we are experiencing distress. [1:6]. If we understand we are absolutely secure in the arms of God, whatever we are facing, we face it from a position of strength.

Being conscious of God also speaks to living out a choice to obediently follow Him. Peter says to prepare your minds for action, to be self-controlled, to be holy, to purify yourself, to submit to authority, to resist the devil. Peter’s letter is full of commands! He’s describing a lifestyle which humbles itself before God. To me that means living not the way I want to live but the way He wants me to live. Even if the circumstance I’m living in right now is one I would not have chosen.

When Jesus healed the blind man, his disciples asked the question we all ask when life isn’t what we signed up for. “Whose fault is this?” John 9: 2 says, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he would be born blind?” Our first question when something bad happens is the same as theirs: whose fault is this? Who did this to me? Those are the wrong questions.

Jesus’ answer is amazing. This man’s blindness is going to show the glory of God.

If we know God, know the specifics of who God is and what He has done for us, we can bear up under whatever life throws at us. Disease. Cancer. Family dysfunction. Financial disaster. Painful pasts. Fearful futures. Being conscious of God allows us to handle it, to stand in a secure place, to continue a life of obedience and to ask the right question: how can this bring glory to God?

~Roxana Currie

 

Advertisements

When God says, “No.”

light hands woman books

The doctor quietly said, “I’m sorry.”

The words came off his lips so carefully it was as if he knew they might break something. Chase and I had prayed for years about starting a family, and the Lord had just answered  with two little words. The rebuttal of my heart was, “But Lord, I’ve already had so much hard. You can’t possibly give me this, too.” I felt such panic. “This can’t possibly be the way this ends. This can’t be my story, Lord. I don’t want this story. God please, no.” From the depths of my heart, pain and panic screamed at me. And I was listening.

By the grace of God, the pain of infertility and a pending heart procedure led me into the office of a pastor for biblical counseling.  Before I could meet with the pastor for the first time, there were two things he asked of me: I must be teachable, and I must agree that the Bible is God’s Word. At the time I thought I knew the Lord, so I agreed to his conditions. Week after week we would meet. I listened, I cried, I read, I studied, and I received gentle but painful correction. It didn’t take many weeks of counseling before I saw that I didn’t really know God or his Son.

The eyes of my heart were opened. My sin was great. There was absolutely nothing pure and without stain within me. Pouring my heart out to Jesus, I confessed how much I needed Him. And like an anvil falling on my head I realized I needed Him more than I needed to be pregnant. I needed Him more than the dreams in my heart or the air in my lungs. I needed Him more than anything this world offered.

My focus moved from my circumstances and onto Him, and my days became consumed with the Word. I was so thirsty and had just found a well that satisfied. I couldn’t get enough of knowing who God really was through scripture and through the life of His Son. Through the years, I had believed many unbiblical things about the Lord and finding truth was comforting.

Every page turned in scripture invigorated my soul. It didn’t bring my broken heart back to life; it gave me a new one (Ezekiel 36:26). God’s ultimate plan for my life is to rescue me from sin (1 Corinthians 15:1-2), and I was beginning to see that. He had just taken a broken, lost soul and given me hope through Jesus (1 Peter 1:3-6). I began to praise Him and thank Him for the work He was doing in my life, and as I lifted up praise, I started to feel joy. He was turning my weeping into joy (Psalm 30:11-12). This affliction taught me His Word (Psalm 119:71) and keeps me running back to Him. But I am never so changed that I don’t need Jesus just as much in the next breath as I did the day I walked into my first appointment with the pastor.

The past eight years have brought pain, loss, and discomfort, yet the Lord’s mercies have overshadowed the hardship. Being rescued from sin was the greatest gift and the sweetest answer to prayer. However, his goodness didn’t stop there. He strengthened our marriage, and He gave us a son. The most perfect 7 lb 14oz boy I’ve ever seen and every day with him is a gift we treasure. He gave us a birth mother that is a sister through Christ and lives to serve the Lord. As I brought my pain to Him, God healed it. He allowed me to comfort others and encourage them to come to know Jesus (2 Corinthians 1:6). My  pain sent me running to Him where only He knows what I need in that moment.

I do not wish to mislead anyone; it’s rarely been easy or pretty. Being renewed day-by-day takes active partnership with the Lord (2 Corinthians 4:16) even while my emotions fight for attention. I’ve been tempted to lower my convictions about the character of God (Matthew 4:6), but now I’m prepared with the Word of God. Looking not to what is seen but to what is unseen never comes naturally to me (2 Corinthians 4:18), but I strive to train myself to seek His Word and not my understanding.  The grace of God drives me to the cross where sin and selfishness are crucified and hope is found.

Because I know God is always working for my good and His glory (Romans 8:28), I can be certain that my pain is not wasted or meaningless (2 Corinthians 4:17). The One who sets the stars in place (Psalm 8:3), holds the world on its axis (Psalm 104:5), knows the number of hairs on my head (Luke 12:7) and every tear that’s fallen from my cheek (Psalm 56:8) is a God who knows me intimately and cares for me. He chose to say, “no.” I may never understand fully but I’m thankful He did.

~Leah Richardson

 

 

Bearing Fruit

close up of fruits hanging on tree

The women’s ministry team at Lakeside Fellowship is excited about our upcoming year! And I, personally, am so very thankful for a group of women who share not only their gifts with and vision for women’s ministry, but they sincerely love God, study his Word, and seek to live it out in daily, practical ways. Part of that vision is this blog, “Loving Him, Learning Together, Living it Out.” It’s our desire that through the hearts and voices of these writers, women are encouraged by the Word but also come to understand the real, joyful, and sometimes difficult ways we need to “live it out.”

Our theme verse, Colossians 1:9b-10, says, “We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,” (NIV).

What a beautiful calling we have as women of God—to live a life worthy of Christ and, in so doing, bear fruit for the kingdom. One thing follows the other: as we “walk worthy” of the Lord, our lives bear out the fruit. The question often is, “How do we do this?” How, in the busyness of life–husband and children, family and friends, work and activities and all the glorious racket that accompanies them—do we walk through each day seeking and serving Christ so that we bear fruit?

We WANT to walk every day in a way that pleases God, yet we fall short so very often. Thank goodness for His grace! He does not want us to “pull ourselves up by our bootstraps” and power on. But, even as Paul prayed for the Colossians, we can and should “ask God to fill [us] with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives. . . .“  Yes, do that! We need to ask God to give us an understanding of the Word as we read it and the insight to apply it every day. That is the work of the Spirit in our lives!

As we are led by the Spirit, how do we go about “bearing fruit in every good work?” That seems like an awful lot—EVERY good work? What does that even look like?
It looks like. . . .

. . . getting up yet again to PATIENTLY and lovingly discipline that child and put him back in bed.

. . . giving grace to that co-worker who grumbles and complains at the drop of a hat.

. . . praying for the family member who continues to make poor choices and hurts others in the process.

. . . writing a note to a teacher to say you’re praying for her, and she’s doing a remarkable job.

. . . setting the alarm 20 minutes earlier so that you have time to be in the Word.

. . . working in the church nursery or helping on the “coffee team.”

. . . praying faithfully for our pastors even when you’re not sure what to pray for.

. . . coming along side a younger woman to give an encouraging word or timely hug.

. . . sitting by an older woman, getting to know her, and asking how you might help her.

. . . supporting your husband and encouraging him, even when you might not agree.

. . . it looks like all of these things and so many more.

                                                                                                                                                             Our daily fruit happens moment by moment, unexpectedly and whispered or in joyful opportunities of grace, compassion, and kindness. It may test our patience and try our weary hearts. Some fruit will bring joy while some will call for sacrifice and humility. Often the fruit isn’t big and showy. It’s not meant to be. It’s small, quiet, and motivated out of love for Christ and His work for us on the cross.

This is the fruit of the gospel.

And this fruit can be the feet of the gospel in the daily lives of Christ-following women. This is how we bear beautiful fruit in our daily good work. This is the reflection of Christ that shines on the cross. So take heart, ladies, in living a life worthy of the Lord and bearing fruit daily. Through the power of the gospel, we are His children empowered by the Spirit to please God who is already working in us to bear fruit and glorify Him. Every day is a harvest day in our lives.

~Jen Subra

“Live in such a way that men may recognize you have been with Jesus.”              ~Spurgeon