Dine, Don’t Snack, on Scripture ~ Welcome to the Bible: Chapters and Verses Bring Convenience and Challenges ~ Part 3


Does this ever happen to you?

Life gets busy. Too busy to do much more than the most urgent, like drink coffee so you can do everything else.

Reading the Bible falls off your plan for the day.

And the next day.

And the next.

Ugh.

You move through the week and lament that you haven’t had time to read your Bible. But you don’t do anything about it.


It used to happen to me a lot.

Then a well-meaning friend encouraged me to simply read a verse or two each day saying, “It’s better than nothing.”

Brilliant.

Instead of sitting down for an extended time of reading a few days a week, I faithfully read a verse or two every day.

It was better than nothing.

Or so I thought.

Over time I noticed my relationship with God growing more and more shallow.

I didn’t know why. I missed the connection.

The Enemy of Best

It seems logical that a verse or two is better than nothing. But sometimes better is the enemy of best.

Imagine a pediatrician saying to the mother of a toddler, “You’re busy. It’s ok if you just feed your child a couple of bites of food a day. It’s better than nothing.”

Technically, the doctor would have a point. Two bites are better than no bites. But it’s not best.

Making time to feed children just enough food so they don’t starve to death is better than not making time to feed them at all. But this better situation is no friend of the child’s best.

Taking time out of a busy schedule to feed children well every day so they can grow strong and healthy is always best.

Surely every pediatrician would agree.

Chapters and Verses Entice Snacking

Because the Bible has been divided into chapters and verses, it’s easy for us to stop reading at the end of a verse.

The man-made divisions hint at a break in thought or action and make it easier to stop reading, but this isn’t the best way to read.

We don’t need to go back and remove the chapters and verses from our Bibles. We just need to resist the temptation to snack on Scripture rather than dine.

Should We Abandon All Snacking?

Snacking has its place – both in food and in verses.

Every day I read, pin, like, and heart memes of Bible verses on Pinterest, Facebook, or Instagram.

And some days there really is no time for me to read more than a Bible verse meme. Let’s don’t abandon all spiritual snacking.

And certainly not edible snacks. I count the minutes until my 4:00 pm coffee and snack time. Sometimes I have it at 3:00 pm.

Hot chocolate chip cookies or fresh blueberries with a mug of coffee = Happiness.

But if the only food I ate every day was my 4:00 pm snack, my health would fail no matter how healthy my snacks are.

When scriptural snacks were my only source of spiritual nutrition, my relationship with God grew small. My faith, wimpy.

But once I began reading the Bible in all-you-can-eat buffet portions (and in context), my understanding of God and His character expanded. My walk with Him took off.

Imagine that.

My love for and faith in God hasn’t starved since. And they’re still growing as I keep dining on large servings of Scripture rather than snacking.

BTW, there’s no magic formula. No one can tell you how many verses are enough — except God. Let Him lead your time in His Word.

Is It Ever Good To Study Just a Verse or Two?

Absolutely.

It’s a great habit to dig deep into individual verses. To get to the marrow of its meaning.

I’m currently working my way through Romans. One verse at a time.

It’s taking a long while, but I want (need) to understand it better. So I focus each day on a few passages while remembering that reading verses in isolation rather than in context can lead to misunderstanding God’s message.

As I study Romans verse by verse, I also read a chapter or two to let the bigger picture of Romans soak into my mind. And I read other books of the Bible as well.

We shouldn’t become legalistic about our daily reading. It’s not a measure of our spiritual worth. We don’t win points with God when we read. Nor does He hand down demerits when we miss.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” Romans 8:1 ESV.

No condemnation. None.

But God’s Word blesses us – changes us – when we read it.

You may have to force yourself to read it at first. But eventually, if you read the Bible in order to know the God of the Word, you’ll begin to long for the Word of the God.

Time in God’s Word will become as enticing as that morning cup of liquid heaven. (That’s coffee for me. I don’t know what you strange non-coffee drinkers enjoy.)

No Time? Pray and Make Time

Life is busy. It’s not likely to slow down.

Deal with it. (Was that too harsh? Sorry.)

Pray and ask God. He’ll make a way for you. He may wake you early to read. Or He may open up time for you to read during the day or evening.

We should all ask God to make us aware of the time we already have that we may be misspending watching TV, piddling on Social media, or catching a little extra shut-eye.

Trust God to enable you to accomplish all you need to do each day. Then walk by faith and make time for reading your Bible – even if you don’t think you have time.

God will provide all you need. But you have to trust Him by sitting down with your Bible.

Don’t wait for Him to sit you down. You’ll probably enjoy it more if you voluntarily sit down rather than having God sit you down.

My mom once told me I was too busy. “You need to drop some of your activities,” she said. I told her it was impossible. A couple of months later I had to have surgery. Somehow everything got done without me. She smirked, and I dropped some of my activities. I got sat down, and I listened.

Just as you’d make time to serve a child three full meals a day, make time every day to serve yourself one full meal of spiritual nourishment from God’s Word.

REMEMBER: Chapters and verses can encourage snacking on Scripture rather than dining. Make time to serve yourself a full meal from God’s Word by reading large portions of Scripture every day.

The Word of God Endures Forever

Chapter and verse divisions may not last, but the Word of our God will stand forever.

“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”
~ Isaiah 40:8 ESV

Dine - don't snack - on Scripture. Why you should read more than a verse or two a day. #Biblestudy #GodsWord Click To Tweet





Why Can’t God’s Highest Purpose Be My Comfort Instead of His Glory?

God's Glory is His Highest Purpose-not our comfort-and that's good news for us! (Jean Wilund via www.inspireafire.com)

Aha!

Ever had an “Aha moment?” Like when you discovered coffee is amazing. Or that you needed reading glasses.

We’ll probably experience lots of aha moments in heaven. For now, we have lots of head-scratching and wondering moments.

Jesus’ disciples had one. . . Read More


Read the rest of this post at InspireAFire.com. I’m blogging over there today!

God's Glory is His Highest Purpose-not our comfort-and that's good news for us! (Jean Wilund via www.inspireafire.com)




Jesus’ Last Seven Words On the Cross & What They Mean For Us Today

Jesus' Last Seven Words On the Cross and What They Mean For Us Today (via www.jeanwilund.com) #Easter #GoodFriday

________†________

If you could control the moment you died, what would your last words be?  

Jesus controlled His. 

Let’s look at what He chose to say.

Let’s look at His last seven words on the cross and what they mean to us today.


1. Forgiveness

“Father, forgive them;
for they do not know what they are doing.”
(Luke 23:34 NASB)

Christ’s first recorded words on the cross were a prayer. But not for Himself. 

“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

Really? They didn’t know what they were doing?

It took awhile for Christ to stumble up to Calvary in His tortured state. They had plenty of time to realize where this would end.

They drove nails through His hands and feet.

How could they not know what they were doing?

And yet . . .“Father, forgive them for they don’t know what they’re doing.”

They didn’t know because sin blinded them.

The Jewish leaders, the crowd who cried out for His crucifixion, Governor Pilate who gave the order for His death, and the Roman guards who carried out their evil desires were all blinded by sin.

If they’d truly understood what they were doing, they wouldn’t have done it.

They would’ve been too horrified.

Instead, they would’ve bowed before Jesus, not mocked, denied, and crucified Him.

What this means for us:

Like those who crucified Christ, we deny, excuse, and wink at sin. 

And just like them, we’re blind to the depths and seriousness of it.

If we saw our sin as it actually is — as God sees it — it would revolt us. We’d stay far from it. 

But we’re just as easily blinded by sin. 

Unless God opens our eyes to it, we’ll stay blind.

Ask God to help you see sin for what it is so you’ll want to stay far from its destructiveness.

Sort of like most of us wouldn’t be tempted to eat roach-filled brownies. 

Then remember how sin blinds. That way when others sin against you, even those who surely know what they’re doing, your heart will be able to forgive. Like Christ’s.

“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing.” 

Because none of us truly do.


2. Salvation

“And He said to him, ‘Truly I say to you,
today you shall be with Me in Paradise.’”
~ Luke 23:43

Two criminals hung on the cross next to Christ. One spewed hate. The other admitted his guilt and asked Christ for mercy.  

Salvation only came to one that day.

The thief, who believed Jesus is exactly who He said He was, joined Christ in heaven that day. The other one doomed himself to hell by his unbelief. He had the same opportunity to believe but refused.

What this means for us:

As long as there is breath in our lungs, it’s not too late for us to choose to believe.

But we won’t have forever to make that choice.

Time ran out on the other criminal.

Don’t let time run out on you. Choose today while there’s still today. 


3. Compassion

“Dear woman, here is your son.”
John 19:26

The first three of Jesus’ last words were for other people. 

His concern, as He hung in agony, was for the forgiveness, salvation, and needs of others. 

Specifically the needs of His mother. Mary. 

We don’t know what happened to Joseph by this point. Most believe he must have died as he’s not mentioned in the Bible after Jesus was grown. 

As Jesus hung on the cross, and pain pierced His body, He focused on His mother and passed the responsibility of caring for her to His beloved disciple, John. 

What this means for us today:

Jesus showed us that much can be accomplished no matter our circumstances through great, selfless love for God and others.

It’s natural when we’re in pain to turn our thoughts inward. But studies have shown that when we turn our thoughts and actions toward serving others instead, our pain tolerance increases.

Jesus wasn’t trying to reduce His stress by His actions, but it’s not a bad benefit. 

Jesus also demonstrated the importance of always showing love to your mother.

Did you hear that, kids? Jesus said so.  


4. Anguish

“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
~ Mark 15:34

When Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsake Me?” did He not understand what God was doing? 

Was He suddenly confused in His anguish? 

Absolutely not.

In all of Christ’s humanity, He never lost His deity.

When He humbled Himself and took on the physical form of man, He laid aside His rights, not His divinity.

He submitted His rights even to death on a cross, but He never lost sight of His purpose or God’s plan.

Yes, He suffered terrible anguish in His body from the agony of the cross and the flogging He endured beforehand.

He also suffered in His soul, as He carried the crushing weight of our despised sin.

But Jesus wasn’t confused. He was quoting the first verse in Psalm 22.

Psalm 22 is filled with prophecies about Him, the Messiah, the Promised Savior. Every Jewish leader listening to Him knew that psalm.

By quoting that verse, Jesus declared that Psalm 22 spoke of Him. 

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus had told the Jewish leaders that Moses wrote about Him. (John 5:46) In this one prayer, He revealed the Psalmists did as well. 

What this means for us today:

In these words, Christ settles forever the question, “Does God really love me? Do I really matter?” 

The answer is a resounding, “Yes.”

Which of us would hand over our own beloved son to be tortured and forsaken for our friends, much less our enemies?

Who among us would pour out their own fierce wrath upon their beloved only son for the sin of those who spit on him and mocked him? 

God did. (Romans 5:10)

And which of us would be willing to endure such torment for those who don’t deserve it?

Jesus was. (Hebrews 12:2)

Yes, God really loves you. 

And, yes, you really matter to Christ.


5. Suffering

“I am thirsty.”
~ John 19:28

In Christ’s humanity, His body was ready to give out. It suffered intense physical thirst.

In Psalm 22, God pointed to this moment.

“My strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you lay me in the dust of death.”
~ Psalm 22:15

Through King David, God prophecized that Jesus would drink bitterness.

“…for my thirst they gave me sour wine to drink.”
~ Psalm 69:21

What this means for us today:

Man can live a long time without food, although it wouldn’t be fun. But man cannot live long without water. 

Jesus suffered agonizing physical thirst that spoke to our spiritual thirst. 

Earlier in His ministry, Jesus spoke of spiritual thirst to the Samaritan woman at the well.

He said to her, “Give Me a drink.” (John 4:7)

She was surprised by this for many reasons and was drawn into a conversation with Christ. In a way that only Jesus can do, He told her about Himself. 

“Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.”
John 4:13-14

We’re all created as spiritual beings. And without Christ–the Living Water–our spiritual thirst can never be quenched. And we can never truly live.

Without Him, we’ll merely survive until we die. Eternally.

With Him, rivers of living water spring up from us to eternal life, and we will never thirst again. 


6. Victory

“It is finished!”
~ John 19:30

What God begins, He finishes. Period. 

Christ accomplished our salvation. The terrible price had been paid on the cross. 

From that moment in the Garden of Eden when the crunch of rebellion was heard ‘round the world, all of heaven and earth longed to hear these three words spoken.

“It is finished!” 

Through these three final words uttered on the cross, Christ expressed what every person longs to hear.

“I love you!” 

What this means for us today:

Everything you need for salvation has already been accomplished.

All you need to do is accept Jesus’ gift of salvation. You need to do anything to earn it. No good deeds or special works.

You can’t earn it. You don’t have it in you because you’ve got sin in you instead.

Simply:

Admit you’re a natural born sinner with no hope of ever being free of your sin apart from Christ,

Believe in your heart that Jesus paid for all your sin on the cross, and

Confess Him as your Lord,

You will be saved. 

Jesus finished the work of salvation on the cross. Accept it. Receive it. Enjoy it.

“It is finished!”  


7. Joy

“Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit!”
~ Luke 23:46
 

Just like Christ’s first words on the cross, His last words were a prayer to God.

In His words, we see the beauty of the perfect relationship between the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Jesus' Last Seven Words On the Cross and What They Mean For Us Today (via www.jeanwilund.com) #Easter #GoodFridayWe also see the proof that Jesus truly gave His life. No one took it. 

His disciple Judas Iscariot betrayed Jesus to the Jewish leaders. 

The leaders demanded Pilate crucify Him. 

Pilate handed Jesus over to the Roman guards. 

The Roman guards nailed Jesus to the cross. 

But no one took His life. 

Jesus chose the exact moment when He would die. 

After declaring, “It is finished,” Jesus prayed, “Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.” 

Then He bowed His head and gave up His life. 

Scripture doesn’t say He passed away, thus His head fell forward. 

It says, “He bowed His head and gave up His spirit.” ~ John 19:30

What a powerful display of Christ’s divinity. Even as He suffered the deepest agony possible, He remained sovereign over all, perfect in all His ways.

The agony was behind Him. The joy before Him. Jesus said His last words and then entered into His joy.

What this means for us today:

The Bible says it best.

“Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

These were Jesus’ Last Seven Words before He gave His life on the cross.
But this is not the end of the story.

Today is Friday, but Sunday’s coming!


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NOTE: Just to be clear, Jesus’ last seven words on the cross weren’t actually His “last words” because He’s never going to have “last words.” He rose from the dead and lives — and speaks — forevermore.





Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts

 Softened Soil & Hearts — We Interrupt These Blog Posts to Bring You A Hurricane via www.jeanwilund.com

We Interrupt These Blog Posts to Bring You A Hurricane

Stupid hurricane. It blew in and wrecked my plans. For thousands, it wrecked a lot more. 

My heart breaks over the news of those who’ve lost so much in Hurricane Irma (September 2017) [and how Hurricane Florence, September 2018] — especially those who lost their lives.  

I’m thankful to report, we weathered Irma well. We only lost our power for a few hours. (Long enough to remind me how much I depend on it.)

We almost lost a tree, too. After Irma, our Chinese Elm leaned at a 45º angle. This is good, though. It had been growing at an 85º angle since the beginning.  

I kept meaning to straighten it out and stake it while it was small, but one thing led to another. By the time I got around to it, the tree was rooted into the hard clay soil and unwilling to budge an inch. 

I thought about forcing it but was afraid of damaging the tree — maybe even breaking it — so I left it. But now we’ve got to fix it. Tree roots can’t survive above-ground.

Fortunately, we can pull it up with ease because it’s now loose in the Irma-softened soil, and we own a Jeep. Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts (God's work in our hearts) via www.jeanwilund.com

Softened Soil & Hearts

Hurricane Softened Soil & Hearts — When a Hurricane actually did something good. www.jeanwilund.comWhen I told my friend Debbie about our poor tree, she pointed out how much our Chinese Elm is a picture of the work God does in our hearts.

Unless God softens the soil of our hearts, no outward pushing or pulling will move it without damage.

I’m guilty of hurting a few people with my well-meaning attempts to force their hearts to move in a direction I felt was best.

I’ve tried to help God rather than wait for Him to do the work only He can do.

Why do I keep forgetting I’m not God?

God’s Perfect Work

God’s work in our hearts is perfect. Only He knows best what we need.

Sometimes God sends a long, gentle rain to soften a heart.

He’ll speak to us through His Word or and open our eyes to a truth we’d missed or misunderstood. Painless.

Other times, He sends a rainstorm that breaks up the soil of our hearts in ways we wouldn’t have chosen.

Painful, but effective.

And then, when necessary, God sends an all-out hurricane to flood and blow against our hearts until they become putty in His hands.

PAINFUL, but perfect.

God’s Work in our hearts isn’t always fun. It helps to remember:

God never allows storms in our lives to blow beyond what is absolutely necessary to cause our roots to grow deep into His marvelous love.

New Life — New Look

If my Chinese Elm continued to grow at an angle the roots couldn’t support, a strong storm would’ve eventually flattened it.

With the soil now properly softened, we can give our tree new life that’s able to weather whatever comes.

We can give it a new look, too. A strong look, rather than looking like it’ll fall over if the wind sneezes.  

As painful as they are, I’m thankful for the storms God has sent or allowed into my heart. He’s used each one to mold me more into the likeness of Jesus. I rarely cheer in the midst of the turmoil, but I grimace less when I remember God’s wisdom is infinite, and His goodness is perfect. I can trust Him.

I may never look just like Jesus with all the twists and turns in my trunk, but that’s ok. My roots are growing down into the soil of His marvelous love, and I’m filled with new life. And hopefully a new look. A look that smiles more than it grumbles or whines.

My goal is before I’m old and gray people who know me will see what Jesus is truly like. My children didn’t see Jesus in me enough, but perhaps my grandbabies will. (Life is a marathon, not a sprint.)

I’m Sorry

To those of you that I’ve hurt by my pushing and pulling, “Forgive me.” I hope you know it was only because I love you — or because I was temporarily an idiot.

And to those of you who’ve been hurt by other Christians who tried to force your heart to believe in Jesus or look like Jesus — on their behalf, I say, “I’m so sorry.”

And to those who are facing a Heart Hurricane, I say, “Embrace it.”

Hang on, but embrace it. Let God have His way with your heart.

Let Him soften and move your heart to where it needs to be before life flattens you. Or even breaks you.

An Encouraging Word From the Word

I now leave you with encouragement from Ephesians 3:16-20:

I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit. 

Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong. 

And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 

May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.

Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us, to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think. 


If you want to help victims of Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Harvey, Samaritan’s Purse is a great organizations. They provide help to many and are supported by donations.  

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Enoch Walked With God & Had a Methuselah Moment — You Can, Too! (Part 2)

Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 2 via www.JeanWilund.com

My Methuselah Moment

Ever had a Magic Moment, the kind that the Drifters sing about?

I have. But even better than a Magic Moment is a Methuselah Moment a moment in time when your walk with God changes forever. 

By that I mean, you walk with God. If you walk away from God, that moment would more likely be considered a Gomer Moment. I’ll have to write about that another time.

My first Methuselah Moment came when I first heard the Gospel message. I’d grown up hearing about Jesus. I celebrated His birthday every December and His resurrection every spring. I loved Him because every time we celebrated something for Him, I was the one who got presents.

Finally, in 1973, God drew me to Himself and led me to a summer youth camp where I heard the Gospel for the first time. I embraced it and began walking with God.

My next Methuselah Moment came when I saw The Red Thread — the presence of Jesus and/or His Work woven from eternity past into eternity future. 

The moment I saw a timeline showing Jesus woven through God’s Word from Genesis to Revelation, I was stunned. It was like I’d found the missing piece of Christianity that made Christianity stop seeming so hard. It changed my walk with God. Forever.

I saw God in a new light. Actually, in more light — as if a veil had lifted. I saw His heartbeat — Jesus.

I saw that Christianity isn’t about living a certain way and then going to heaven. It’s about Jesus. Everything from eternity past into eternity future is about Jesus Christ and His amazing love for the Father and the world. It all starts and ends with Jesus.

When I say it’s all about Jesus, don’t think I’m leaving out God or the Holy Spirit. They’re the inseparable three-in-one.

From first to last, it’s all about Christ, who lives to glorify God and is revealed by the Spirit.

I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.
~ Revelation 22:13

Enoch’s Methuselah Moment

We don’t know what God said to Enoch, but I wonder if his Methuselah Moment came when he saw The Red Thread. There’s no written record that he “saw Jesus threaded through God’s plan for the world,” but we know from Jude 14-15 that he prophesized about Jesus’ Second Coming. And we know Enoch’s ancestors and descendants saw The Red Thread, even though the full reality of Jesus’ first coming remained a mystery.

Adam and Eve received the promise that Jesus would come to save the world from sin (Genesis 3:15).

Abel discovered the importance of the right sacrifice, which points to Jesus, the perfect and final sacrifice (Genesis 4:3-7; Hebrews 11:4).

After Enoch, his grandson Noah experienced the joy of being saved due to being counted as righteous through faith (Genesis 7:1; Hebrews 11:7).

Surely, as Enoch walked with God for 300 years, he came to know God’s heartbeat — that God would bring everything into unity under Christ (Ephesians 1:9-10) and give Him first place in everything (Colossians 1:18).

Walk Like Enoch

Enoch had a unique relationship with God in those days, but we have something he didn’t. We have God’s Word in written form — God’s Word, the Bible.

If we dig into God’s Word — and let it dig into us — it will change us.

To walk with God like Enoch, we must walk with the Word.

One of the best ways I’ve found to walk with the Word is The Red Thread Way.

I’ll post about that next, so please check back. 


Share this post and check back for our next look at Enoch’s Walk with God & Methuselah Moment. If you missed Part 1, Click Here.

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Enoch walked with God & had a Methuselah Moment (You Can, Too) Part 2 via www.JeanWilund.com