I am writing this week’s post as a challenge to myself. Significant times in my life have been marked with some obvious and consistent messages from God. He speaks to me through others and through repetition (like, hit-me-over-the-head-several-times repetition). And God has made something exponentially clear (i.e. hit me over the head several times) to me over the past several weeks. I need the Word. His Word. The Bible. And I need it to be in solid relationship with Him, and to thrive in this life. It sounds obvious as a Christian. I mean, of course I need to be reading the Bible. But in complete vulnerability, I do not pick it up nearly enough. And the result? As Spring comes along, I yearn for refreshment, renewal, and restoration. And unless I seek Him in that, I am left missing out on the fruits of the season, and rather, stuck in a rut and enveloped in my own weaknesses.
As Erin shared last week, “New Lenses to See Truth”, we need new lenses with which we can see His truth when circumstances in our life are not going quite as we scripted. For us to experience these circumstances in their fullness, we need to trust God with the outcomes in our lives by being faithful in his ways of living. And his ways of living are scripted out for us in The Word.
The amazing and wonderful news about God, our heavenly Father, is that he gives us what we need to thrive – his promises of refreshment, renewal, and restoration – in something we have access to at our fingertips, His Word. God’s Word is where we find these promises.
He gives us refreshment through his word every time we open the Bible.
God’s word is where you physically find His promises. 1 Timothy 3:16-17 reminds us that All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work. And in Matthew 4:4 we learn Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Joshua 1:8 encourages us to meditate on His word, …day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success. And Psalm 119:105 affirms that His word …is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. I could go on and on with the countless references of proof of what being in His word can do for us. Who couldn’t use that kind of living water each day?
He renews in us a hope each day as we wake and seek Him.
“Let the morning bring me word of your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life.” (Psalm 143:8) I am amazed at how God uses the seasons to reveal his character in so many ways. God’s biggest acts of restoration and refreshment and renewal came when his son rose from the dead. New life. The hope that comes with that is something that will never get old. And what is so amazing about God is he literally gives this to us every day. Before our feet even hit the ground in the morning, we are promised that “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22–23 And through our trials, we know that “Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30:5).
He restores us to a right relationship with him (and others) through the gifts of grace, mercy, and forgiveness.
We may not understand everything that happens in the day and in our world, and some of us may be going through some substantial deep pain and burden. But we can live with the knowledge and the hope that God restores all things to those who believe. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. (1 Peter 5:10)
These are all God’s promises to us. Found right in Scripture. And he fulfills those promises to us every day with each trial and with each celebration; all we need to do is ask. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. (Psalm 51:12)
The outcomes in our life are at the hands of the Lord. But we’re called to simply trust our lives to Him. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) And trust is built through relationship. And the fundamental of any relationship is what? It’s time. It’s true for your friendships. It’s true for your marriage. It’s true for your family. And it’s true for your relationship with God.
My AWESOME husband Matt (yes, he asked me to insert that in; but he really is awesome…) shares that a pivotal point in his adult life came while he was reading “Unstuck” by Arnie Cole and Michael Ross. They based their book on a study of the lives of 80,000 Christians, separating those who were “growing” in their faith and those who were “stuck.” The single major factor that differentiated the two groups was how often the participants were in the word of God—not just reading it, but READING, REFLECTING, and RESPONDING. Those who were doing this four or more times per week were growing in their relationship with God and in their lives, and those who were doing this zero to three times per week were all at par with the ones who were doing it zero times per week.
Matt was so convicted by the stats, that he decided to do what the book told him to do to get “unstuck,” spending more than four times per week with God and in His word. That ultimately turned a posture before God that said, “Yes, now what’s the question?” Prior to that point, Matt was not experiencing all that God intended for him (he was in the zero-three times per week camp). So this was a major turning point towards God–to seek Him constantly. He adds, “…everything began to follow after that.” Meaning, his priorities, his desires, and his actions changed. He began to see life and purpose differently, with a God-lens. And this wife noticed a huge difference in his posture and outlook, and even in his interactions with our family.
Who doesn’t want that for themselves? As I shared, I’m highly challenged to make that happen for myself, as God has clearly been pursuing me in this area. If this is an area in which you are convicted to grow, how can you reorganize your schedule to make this happen for you? And there’s simply no substitute for getting into the Word of God. (Not even this blog or the many other awesome blogs and books out there do not substitute for THE Book!)
How can we carve out this precious time that will yield refreshment, restoration, and renewal? I am confident you will see God show up in big ways.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! (2 Corinthians 5:17)