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Ephesians 2:8 -- For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the GIFT OF GOD.

Studying this passage, it took me a while to figure out what part was the gift of God. Is it the grace? No... The grace is God's, He isn't giving it to us in this verse. Is it the salvation? That seems a little off for this verse, too! As much as these things are both gifts from God, I think it's the FAITH that this verse is promising to us. FAITH is a GIFT OF GOD!

I've been thinking for some time that faith is something i have to work at. Something that i have to worry about when it seems like it's running low...
But if it's a gift of God, why am i trying to create it on my own?

Faith is created by God's Spirit within us... Just the fact that we have faith is proof that we have accepted Christ and that the Holy Spirit is within us! (Hebrews 11:1 -- Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the EVIDENCE of things not seen.)

So once God gives us this gift, shouldn't we have enough?
This is like saying, "I have the "mustard seed" (Matthew 17:20), shouldn't the plant grow itself?"
Once God gives us the seed we must use it... CULTIVATE it! Water the seed and it will grow!
I recall a song I sang at camp... It's little kid philosophy and it's icky, but it works! It goes: "Black socks, they never get dirty; the longer you wear them the stronger they get..." As much as i hate to compare faith to dirty black socks, the point is there! *wink*

So I don't have to work to GET faith, i have to work to GROW faith. The faith seed is there, and it may not be as big as a mustard seed yet, and i may not have moved mountains, but i'm still learning to be the best faith farmer i can be!!!

Well, another day down! And so happy I am...

I have finished moving, finally... But can I say "a job well done"? I guess I can from some angles... I got everything packed an moved and didn't break anything in the process. But where was my heart in all of this? Was I proving my Christianity? Was I being a witness to others?
I wasn't, and that's why it wasn't a job well done. I acted very selfishly. I did not do it with a joyful heart... And as many times as I acted selfishly, I was thinking, "Shannon! SMILE AND LIKE IT!"
I still feel frustrated that I had to move (and all the inconveniences that came with it) but a verse is called to mind:
Col 3:23 -- And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men.
Or maybe even more appropriate:
Col 3:17 -- And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him.

What a week... I tell ya... If it wasn't for Jesus.................. (fill in the blanks, cuz i'm sure you've had a similar type week...)
There are days when it's better to just stay in bed... But there's no growth in that, sorry to say! At the same time as it seems you are being bogged down with trials and tribulations, God is saying "come unto me"... Why should we come unto Him? Because He will give us rest... Call it what you will... Relaxation, down-time... Rest by any other name is still "chillaxation" to me :oD
You know... I once thought that my God-time should not be my rest-time, because it is so important... But Jesus says to us... Matthew 11:28 -- "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."
What is rest, though? Does it mean having a nap? Sitting on a porch in the summer enjoying a breeze? Chillin' with the homies?
For me, rest is anything that doesn't drain energy out of me... Some days that's kickin' back with a good book, hangin' with friends, and some days that may be doing school work! It changes for me... Right now, i wish i had some school work; i would much rather be writing a report on choledocholithiasis than going thru all the things i am right now... My energy is being SAPPED. Right now, the time i spend with God - reading my Bible and praying - is the only time when i feel renewed or refreshed... When i spend time writing out my thoughts is a part of that time... It helps me to reinforce what God has just taught me... This is a time of reflection, when i can go over the events of the day without worrying about them. I trust God because i know he can get a handle whatever i hand over! This is my rest. In God, i rest.

I was thinking... Is there ever a time in your life when you are sitting there praying or reading your Bible or just SITTING and thinking... "I feel like God just flunked me on an exam"? I kinda got that feeling today... Probably because I didn't study for the test... (haha... just like me)

I was thinking... God can't just let you skip a level with Him. The same way we couldn't skip learning simple multiplication and then try to learn long division... God has a curriculum! It is specific to each person! He is much more organized than any school system, but it feels kinda the same...

We have to learn things in a logical order... Otherwise we will be missing fundamental knowledge... And God has refresher courses, too... He does REVIEW. Once He teaches us something, He will NOT let us forget! He keeps sending circumstances that require us to remember the old things we learned... (So you started learning spelling in what... grade 1?? Did you ever use that knowledge again?) And as time goes by, He expands on what He taught us when we were in our "spiritual kindergarten" (Did you stop learning spelling once you had mastered the words "it", "one", or "cat"? Did you stop learning to speak once you said "mama"?)

Romans 1:17 (KJV) -- For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith.

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