“His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.” 2 Peter 1:3
Since 2010 I have been teaching step-by-step painting classes for people who have no experience with painting. All you do is grab a friend, make a reservation, and show up. At the end of the two- hour class you go home with your own masterpiece. You don’t have to bring any supplies, everything you need to create your painting is furnished. Some students come in a bit apprehensive because they’ve never done anything like this before. They’ve never painted a picture, but they’ve always wanted to try. Perhaps they have never tried because of the daunting task of collecting all the supplies that they would need. Being equipped with everything you need is somewhat empowering, both in a painting class and in life.
Unfortunately, I don’t always feel so empowered, in fact, I often struggle to believe I have what it takes to be the woman God has called me to be. Much of the time I feel as if I’m missing a lot of the tools needed to build that godly life He wants me to live. Tools like patience (that’s a biggie), perseverance, self-discipline (sometimes nonexistent), wisdom, boldness, and the list goes on. I have good intentions, but… I sometimes feel overwhelmed. Do you?
“His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and goodness.”2 Peter 1:3
He has made available to us all that we need spiritually through our knowledge of Him by His glory and goodness. Glory expresses the excellence of His being—His attributes and essence. Goodness, on the other hand, is His excellence expressed in His deeds—virtue in action. God gives us everything we need because God gives us Himself in the person of Jesus Christ.
The Apostle Paul wrote almost the same thing to the church at Philippi.
“My God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
According to Colossians 2:10, those who follow Christ are complete in Him. You have the Holy Spirit of God living in you and that’s enough even when we feel like we’re not enough.
So, when you lack wisdom, ask Him for it; when you’re running on empty, rest in Him and allow Him to strengthen you; when you need patience, joy, love, peace, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control, allow the Holy Spirit to grow that fruit in your life. It won’t happen overnight. It takes time for fruit to take shape and grow, but grow it will, and since those God calls, He also enables, you are fully supplied to be all He has called you to be. And so am I, so let’s get to it!
“God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
In today’s techno-society of electronic communication, the handwritten love letter has become almost obsolete. In years past, to receive a letter from a loved one was something special, it still is. Words sent from far away connecting two hearts. Treasures kept for decades bundled together with a satin ribbon.
As we celebrate Valentines Day, a day set aside to celebrate love, let’s meditate on the greatest love of all time—the love of God for His creation, mankind.
“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called
children of God!” 1 John 3:1
A love so great that He would sacrifice His only Son for my sin and your sin.
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes
in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
The Bible, God’s word, is a love letter, always pointing toward Jesus. Always with the purpose of imparting His love for His children. His love letter is written to you. Not the you of your past or the you of your future, but the you today who surrenders to His love. That’s the you He pursues today, no matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done. Choose to accept His love written in red with blood shed for you on the cross. Choose Jesus.
Admit your sin. Believe Jesus is God’s Son and that he died and rose again for you. Confess Him as your Savior and Lord.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. Hu cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit He prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” John 15:1-2
It's that time of year. The time here in South Carolina, when the crepe myrtles and knock-out roses need to be pruned. Actually, not just pruned, but cut back fairly severely. My dear friend, Dianne, who was my plant mentor, used to say to cut them back by Valentine’s Day, which means I only have a few more days to get it done. Pruning is hard work. Besides the actual cutting, there’s also the clean-up. Not my favorite thing to do. But it’s all necessary in order to have beautiful blooms later.
God is compared to a loving gardener who prunes or removes those areas of our character that keeps us from bearing good fruit. Those things that keep us from looking more like Him. It may be ugly (like a badly pruned crepe myrtle) and painful and we often resist, but it’s merciful and good of our loving Father to cut away those things that choke and entangle us spiritually. When pruning is skipped, the plants suffer, and so do we. We were created to bear fruit. Today’s painful pruning paves the way for tomorrow’s blooms and fruit.
As I think about pruning, I’m reminded of the peach trees in neighboring counties. When they are full of beautiful blooms and the fields are filled with clouds of pink, the workers come in and prune the trees, cutting away many beautiful branches. In effect eliminating some of the potential fruit. This is necessary so that the existing branches, filled with blooms, can grow bigger, better fruit.
We may be doing lots of good things, but sometimes the Lord needs to prune and eliminate some of those things so that the remaining good things can be better, more productive, more fruitful, more glorifying to Him.
If you are in the midst of a spiritual pruning season, be patient, let the Lord do His work. It may be painful at times, but the beauty that will come is worth the pain and the effort. Trust Him, He is the Master Gardener and He knows what is best for you.
“For we are God’s workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10
Picasso said “Art washes from the soul the dust of everyday life.” I find this to be a true statement. I love to paint, to draw, to create pieces of art and thoroughly enjoy the work of fellow artists and of children. There is magic in art, it can stir the emotions and calm the mind.
As wonderful as man made art is, it cannot compare to the amazing beauty created by God, the Creator of all that exists. No one can paint a sky like God can. No artist, try as they might, can make the colors God can create when He turns the sky from turquoise to orange to gold to indigo. Nature expresses the wonder of the Master Artist in countless ways, but His most beautiful creation is mankind. We are made in His image, crafted with skill and a purpose, by God for His purposes..
How interesting that the Greek word translated ‘workmanship’ in Ephesians 2:10 is poiema, from which we get our English words ‘poem’ and ‘poetry’. Genesis 1:27 is the first occurrence of poetry in the Old Testament. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27 NIV. Poiema can also be translated ‘work of art’ or ‘masterpiece’. We are God’s work or art, His poetry in motion, created in Christ Jesus to do good works. Sometimes we don’t feel like a beautiful work of art, we’ve forgotten our purpose. God didn’t create us with His masterful workmanship just so we might be the brightest, most beautiful, most skillful,or most successful. We were created in Christ for good works, planned and designed by God, specifically for us. Good works that further the kingdom of God, good works that grow and exhibit our faith. He has a plan for you. A good plan filled with good things for you to do. He has created and gifted us each uniquely, we are treasured and beautiful in His sight, and fortunately, He isn't finished yet. We are His most valuable expression, created to declare the most significant story our Savior has to tell…the story of grace. We are His masterpiece.
“The kingdom of heaven is like a king who prepared a
wedding banquet for his son.” Matthew 2:22
Jesus often used parables to make His point. The book of Matthew includes the parable of the Wedding Banquet in chapter 22. Jesus told the story of a king who prepared a royal banquet for the wedding of his son then sent his servants to those who had been invited to tell them to come, but they refused to come. Then he sent more servants to tell the invited guests that a dinner of finest meats had been prepared and that “everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet”(v.4). But they paid no attention, one went to his field, another to his business, then the rest seized the servants, mistreated them and killed them. Naturally, the king was enraged and said to his servants that those who had been invited didn’t deserve to come. He sent them into the streets to invite anyone they could find to come to the banquet. The servants did as the king had instructed and gathered all the people they could find, both good and bad, and the wedding hall was filled with guests. Then an odd thing happened, the king noticed a man there who was not wearing wedding clothes and asked him, “Friend, how did you get in here without wedding clothes?” The man was speechless, then the king had him bound and thrown into the darkness. Jesus ended the parable by saying, “For many are invited, but few are chosen.”
A wedding is a beautiful, special occasion. A time for family and friends to celebrate the love of the happy couple. To be invited to a wedding is an honor, a privilege. The couple thinks enough of you to invite you to celebrate with them. Jesus likened the kingdom of God to a wedding feast. It’s a picture of God’s generosity and His amazing, unconditional love as well as a picture of His judgment on those who reject his love and do evil.
God loves you and has issued an open invitation to all who will accept, an invitation to intimate fellowship with Him through His Son, Jesus Christ. His invitation is serious and should never be taken lightly. It is a privilege that Almighty God, maker of heaven and earth, invites you to be a part of His family. Eventhough God accepts you where you are, it’s not enough just to show up, you need the right clothes. You can’t enter the Kingdom of heaven on your own terms, only on Jesus’ terms. Fortunately, through His death and resurrection, Jesus has provided the right clothes that you need. Put on Jesus, accept His free gift of salvation.
“…everything is ready. Come to the wedding banquet.”
Susan Sims Meyer
Thoughts and paintings from my personal quiet time and Bible study