Tuesday, March 4, 2014

40 Day Retreat with Jesus: Day 32

Over the past couple of days, the message has been clear: We must love our brothers and sisters because God is love, and in order to live in the light, we must practice what we preach! Today's selection wraps all of this in to a neat little package for us ;)
Today's focus:
1 John 5:1-6
Everyone who trusts Jesus as the long-awaited Anointed One is a child of God, and everyone who loves the Father cannot help but love the child fathered by Him. Then how do we know if we truly love God’s children? We love them if we love God and keep His commands. You see, to love God means that we keep His commands, and His commands don’t weigh us down. Everything that has been fathered by God overcomes the corrupt world. This is the victory that has conquered the world: our faith.
Who is the person conquering the world? It is the one who truly trusts that Jesus is the Son of God, that Jesus the Anointed is the One who came by water and blood—not by the water only, but by the water and the blood. The Spirit of God testifies to this truth because the Spirit is the truth.
My Compass study Bible has this to say:
Just as we do not get to choose our biological brothers and sisters, we do not get to choose our spiritual brothers and sisters either. But what comes along with loving the Father is loving all His other children—even the really annoying ones! While it might seem to be easier to go off and live in isolation rather than put up with those we are not naturally attracted to, there are responsibilities that come with living in a spiritual family. We reflect our worship of God by living in respect with our Christian brothers and sisters. How we treat the people around us on a daily basis is the real test of our love for God.
DING DING DING! WE HAVE A WINNER! We are called to love everyone, saved or not, biological or not, because we are supposed to keep God's commands. That's part of living in the light, that's part of being a daughter/son of Christ, and that's part of showing our Heavenly Father's presence here on Earth. Awhile ago I noted that no one wants to be around someone judgmental and rude, saved or not, and that people will naturally gravitate toward those who truly "live in the light". This reiterates that to "be the light", to walk the walk and talk the talk, is expected of us.
Monday, March 3, 2014

40 Day Retreat with Jesus: Day 31

 Because today's passage is rather long, instead of typing it out, I'm going to provide the notes from the Compass study Bible (The Voice translation) for added dimension! 

Today's focus:
1 John 4:7-21
How can the words of prophets be tested to discover the truth? The most important question is whether they acknowledge that Jesus is fully God and fully human. In the first century, many people were so convinced that this material world was corrupt and evil that they couldn’t imagine how a perfect God could wrap Himself in imperfect skin. Many today still function as if the physical world is a bad thing; this understanding is demonstrated when they downplay the hope of bodily resurrection and emphasize the heavenly destination of souls. Implicitly, this belittles Jesus’ own incarnation and resurrection.
On the other hand, many people accept Jesus’ humanity but deny His divinity. He may have been a great teacher, they say, but certainly not the incarnation of God. However, Jesus made bold claims about who He was and what He came to do. These are not the things a great teacher would have said or done if they had not been true. It is fair to say that no other life has drawn so much scrutiny, and no other life has ever elicited such praise.
This selection reiterates that we know God lives in us simply by the gift of His spirit. We are also, once again, called to love one another-an idea that sets us apart from others and reaffirms our trust, faith, and love in Jesus. In verses 19-21, it also states that it is impossible to love God and hate your brother or sister because not only the fact that "God is love", but it challenges the idea that you can love God, whom no one has ever seen, but hate your brother/sister, whom you come in to contact with every day. That is definitely something to ponder and reflect on!
Sunday, March 2, 2014

40 Day Retreat with Jesus: Day 30

Go figure I get caught up again on the blog and then BLAMMO...tummy bug hits, meaning I had absolutely zero time to spend in the Word let alone doing this retreat. Satan works in interesting ways; he always tries to find a way to steer us wrong and make us veer off course, but even when you persevere, he just looks for another avenue. Sorry guy, you're not winning this one ;)

Today's focus:
1 John 3:17-24
If a person owns the kinds of things we need to make it in the world but refuses to share with those in need, is it even possible that God’s love lives in him? My little children, don’t just talk about love as an idea or a theory. Make it your true way of life, and live in the pattern of gracious love.
There is a sure way for us to know that we belong to the truth. Even though our inner thoughts may condemn us with storms of guilt and constant reminders of our failures, we can know in our hearts that in His presence God Himself is greater than any accusation. He knows all things. My loved ones, if our hearts cannot condemn us, then we can stand with confidence before God.  Whatever we may ask, we receive it from Him because we follow His commands and take the path that pleases Him. His command is clear: believe in the name of His Son, Jesus the Anointed, and love one another as He commanded. The one who follows His teaching and walks this path lives in an intimate relationship with God. How do we know that He lives in us? By the gift of His Spirit.
These passages really speak some serious truth...first of all, you need to put your money where your mouth is. God calls us to love one another, care for our neighbor, and to be our brother's keeper. We need to take care of one another. This isn't only essential for spiritual purposes, but I truly believe that giving does a body good, and by body I mean it in a personal sense as well as us being the body of Christ-the church/the saved. Second, this says that despite what our hearts (or more likely our *heads*) tell us and remind us of our mistakes, we are loved and the presence of God is most definitely present in our lives. Don't get lost in feelings of self-pity, doubt, past mistakes...give it up to God! It's been mentioned time and again that God wants to have a relationship with us, he wants us to come to him! Finally, simply the gift of His spirit is enough to know that He lives in us...
Saturday, March 1, 2014

Review: Compass: The study Bible for Navigating your Life

                                      Compass: The Study Bible for Navigating Your Life
                                                         Thomas Nelson Publishing
                                                            The Voice Translation
                                                             Rating: Five Stars

Oh sweet Jesus, how I LOVE me some Bibles! I'm not sure when it started, but I have loved Bibles for as long as I can remember. So, when the opportunity came up to review this study Bible from Booklook Bloggers, I jumped at the chance. A week and a half later, this beauty was sitting on my doorstep. I couldn't wait to crack it open...and it turns out, my excitement was everything this was chalked up to be. 

This particular study Bible uses a translation that I had been unfamiliar with until now-the Voice translation. This takes traditional scripture and turns it in to an easy-to-read, beautiful format absolutely perfect for study, reflection, prayer, and even just for something I like to call "ear candy". The first thing I noticed was the different types in the Bible; it had bold-faced type, italics, delineated material, and of course, standard type. Each type of type (haha, that's hard to say) indicates either a dynamic translation, an added point, or thoughts and ideas that help bring out the original meaning of a phrase or the original idea. This, in addition to the screenplay format, was immensely helpful in reading and understanding, even for a guy like my husband who, although extremely brilliant, can barely read due to his dyslexia. All of this is explained in the preface and in the pages prior to the start of the actual Bible, and I highly recommend taking a gander at all of the explanations and read about how this Bible was put together and how it works. 

Additionally, there are supplements to the normal readings. There is a 40 day retreat with Jesus reading guide, as well as a guide intended to get you through the Bible in one year. The 40 day retreat is something I'm doing myself and I'm finding it highly enjoyable. The other thing I love about this Bible is that it's the whole kit-n-caboodle...Old Testament, Proverbs, Psalms, New Testament. Sometimes that can be hard to find. 

As for the quality, well, it's stunning. The book jacket is durable and smooth and hasn't fallen off my Bible once; the hard-cover and binding are of superb quality; and the pages are not easy to tear. Believe me, with five children running around and one nursing while I'm trying to read the Bible, many a page has fallen victim to tiny hands tearing at them. Not so with this Bible, the pages are durable and not at all flimsy.

I really, REALLY like this Bible, if you couldn't tell. I'd even venture to say it is my absolute favorite so far which really says something because I was a HUGE "The Message" fan up until now. This presents the Bible in such a beautiful, easy-to-read format that it's almost as if I want to ask "What's NOT to like?"

Overall, I highly recommend this, I think it's a great addition to anyone's bookshelf! Yes I would use this as my main, go-to Bible and I actually plan to do that. If you are interested in a copy of this Bible for your collection, you can purchase it here

Disclaimer: I was provided this book from BookLook Bloggers for my fair and honest opinion. All opinions expressed are my own, unbiased opinions.

40 Day Retreat with Jesus: Day 29

Today I was definitely feeling pretty weary. So much so that I didn't even pull out my Bible until well in to the evening. It was one of those days where I couldn't make myself happy and sort of wondered what the point of *today* was...where was my value and why did I feel like today wasn't of any value, either. Then I read today's verse for the 40 day retreat...

Today's focus:
1 John 3:1-3
Consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us—He calls us children of God! It’s true; we are His beloved children. And in the same way the world didn’t recognize Him, the world does not recognize us either.My loved ones, we have been adopted into God’s family; and we are officially His children now. The full picture of our destiny is not yet clear, but we know this much: when Jesus appears, we will be like Him because we will see Him just as He is. All those who focus their hopes on Him and His coming seek to purify themselves just as He is pure.
Well that's certainly interesting...on a day when I'm feeling like I have no value, like I'm invisible and don't matter, I'm reminded that I need to "consider the kind of extravagant love the Father has lavished on us". I'm sure I'm not the only one that seems to find verses tailored to their specific needs for the day, but this hit the nail on the head. So, even though I felt invisible today, I'm reminded that I'm never invisible, that I'm God's child.