The worst feeling in the world is feeling stupid. I know because I’ve been there too many times for my liking. Math and chemistry come to mind and the Rubik’s cube my son got for Christmas. Not even my time online with “Fixing your Rubik’s Cube for Dummies” could help me. Ugh.
There is one area that I want to encourage you to focus on in the coming year. It is not your waistline, spending habits or being nicer to others (a usual resolution of a friend of mine, obviously not as successful as she would like to be each year). You need to become WISE. You need to resolve to learn more about God in 2017. Specifically, Jesus Christ.
Before we get deeper into this, let me give you some wonderful news right up front. It is found in Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When you seek to know God first and foremost, he takes care of the rest. He will provide for your needs and help you live a better life according to his Word. Could it be that you have gotten it backwards all these years?? Yes. Yes you have. Pursuing outside, worldly goals without first establishing your heart in Christ will always drive you further away from God and further away from happiness. Seek God first.
Now let’s dive in. You need to know Jesus in a personal way. No more depending on pastors, priests, deacons, parents, friends, or pretty Instagram quotes for your spiritual guidance and pseudo biblical knowledge. Time to stand on your own two feet, ladies. Time to be independent in your understanding of who Jesus is, what he has done and what that means to you personally. “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Proverbs 9:10. Think of fearing God (understanding who he is and the power and authority he possesses over you) as the gateway into wisdom. In other words you cannot have wisdom without first knowing God. So get to know him or stay stupid (“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge,fools despise wisdom and instruction.” Proverbs 1:7b).
No friend, priest or pastor will be there with you when you go before God, no one to point to and say, “I believe in everything he/she does.” Nope, God will not ask if you know him, he will TELL you if you know him or not (more accurately, whether you are known by him or not). “And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” “And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matthew 7:23 and 25:30. However, for those who have become wise through the irresistible grace of God, Jesus will be right there speaking to the Father on your behalf. “Yes, I know her, she is mine, I paid for her sins with my blood.” God will say, “Well done, good and faithful servant…Enter into the joy of your master.” Matthew 25:21.
God is such a merciful God that he wrote all about himself using 40 different authors over a span of around 1500 years to give you a good picture of who he is. The book he wrote is the Bible and now is when you should begin reading it. Seek him (“You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13). Get to know Jesus right away in the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.
Now, listen closely to this part. If someone, ANYONE, tries to stop you from reading the Words of God (saying you won’t understand them, you might interpret them wrongly, the Bible is inaccurate, the Bible is incomplete without the extra papal writings, etc.). Tell them to GET LOST, away with that sort of medieval suppression! What they are keeping you from are the words of eternal life (take it from Peter when he said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life,” John 6:68). Women, think clearly here. Why in nearly every other area of your life will you declare that you are independent yet when it comes to the Bible you willingly hand over the reins, telling someone else to think for you? Knock it off! Pick up the Bible and read the book of Luke for goodness sake. Give the world your backside and run towards God.
Finding wisdom and awakening to who Christ is, is the most glorious, life-change anyone could ever dream of. Make 2017 different, make it the year you become wise… the year that changes every other year to come…forever.
End note: For any of you who are not sure where to start or maybe don’t even own a good bible, talk to me. Message me, call me, email me. I can provide both a bible and guidance. That is my passion and mission, to educate women in understanding the Bible and who Jesus is. There is nothing more important.
Favorite Christmas memory? Staying up late Christmas Eve nights with my little brother. He would camp out on my bedroom floor and we would talk for hours letting our imaginations fly about Santa, what gifts we might find under the tree and how excited we were to give our gifts to others. We could hardly contain our elation over what was to come; it felt impossible to go to sleep. We looked so forward to the morning that the waiting seemed almost truly painful, yet completely thrilling at the same time. It was wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation.
I am not going to discuss the merits (or more likely demerits) of Santa here today and I understand that many will feel that children excited about gifts is a display of materialistic greed (bah-humbug!). In my opinion, gifts (tangible and intangible ones) are awesome. I love to give them and, being a person who loves surprises, I enjoy receiving them too. We have an exceedingly giving God. He lavishes grace onto the undeserving and we need to reflect that giving nature as well, especially to those who cannot return the favor (Luke 14:12-14).
I encourage you to build on the anticipation of this season and direct it God-ward. Allow children to be excited about gifts, encourage them to wonder at what they might receive (always teaching thanksgiving); let them experience what anticipation feels like. Help them to be cheerful givers too (2 Cor. 9:7). Discuss the emotions they are feeling and what it has to do with their relationship with Christ. What does it have to do with a relationship with Christ? Let me tell you.
The Bible throbs with anticipation. People of the Old Testament lived in anticipation of a Savior, someone to relieve the impossible burden of the law and to fulfill the prophesies which foretold a Redeemer. John the Baptist came to prepare the way and build anticipation for the coming Christ. Jesus came and fulfilled the anticipation, yet continued to point us toward more. He talked of his Heavenly Kingdom, stating that he is going to prepare a place for us and added, “I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. Wow! Jesus gives himself as a payment for our sins, is resurrected to life and now has a place ready for us in Heaven, where we get to be with him forever to enjoy his glory and perfect presence. Hello? Can you feel the anticipation building?
There’s more. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17, “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord.” Unless we get there first, Jesus is coming to get us! And in style (serious style and serious power, read Revelations 19:11-16!).
We who are Christians have SO MUCH to look forward to. It is too much to contain and too joyous to express - plus the Bible tells us it is going to happen soon. This is wonderful, gut-wrenching anticipation! While I am zealous for the righteousness of the Lord, desiring justice to be finally executed upon those who reject him (“Break the arm of the wicked and evildoer;” Ps. 10:15) my deepest longing is to enjoy the fullness of my Savior face to face forever and as soon as possible (“One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Ps 15:27:4). If you don’t have feelings like this, you need to evaluate your heart; you may not know Jesus like you claim.
Ladies, train yourself in living a life of anticipation, allow this season be a reminder of all you have to look forward to and teach your friends and family the same. Display it for them; be excited to celebrate Christ and the insane gifts that he offers of redemption and forever life with him. Use the anticipation of gift giving and receiving as a springboard for gospel conversations. Focus your energy and fullest joy on times of praise and adoration of the greatest gift Giver of all, our Lord God.
Just like Christmas Eve with my little brother, may your nights be so filled with thoughts of our incredible Savior that it keeps you up late at night filled with anticipation of all that is to come. Come, Lord Jesus!
Christmas is here, and I love it. I love the whole sensory overload of the season. I love the lights and music, eating tree-shaped cookies and even the late night wrapping sessions while watching absurdly corny movies. The best part is celebrating with friends and family. But what is it we are really celebrating again? Oh, that’s right…Jesus. That accounts for the whole “Christ”mas thing.
What the heck does it look like to celebrate Jesus? Let’s be honest, we struggle with this. Is it simply saying grace before meals? “Merry Christmas” instead of “Happy Holidays”? Is it singing religious music, putting up a nativity, going to church on Christmas Eve? Even if we do all of these things (which are good) it still feels seriously inadequate. We have a God that “was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5. A few verses of “Joy to the World” in church is not going to cut it.
We need to get one thing straight right away, God does not need our attention or our good works. He is not a pansy-god who thrives on human interaction or human charity. He is fully God on his own, lacking nothing. Conversely, we humans desperately need God. We lack everything, including the ability to save ourselves from hell. The son of God, Jesus, paid the death penalty for our sins and reconciled us to God. Therefore if we know Christ and believe in what he did for us, we can celebrate him at Christmas (and always). Exclusive? Absolutely. If you are excluded as an unbeliever, you have no reason to rejoice. Enjoy the corny movies and the cookies, that is as good as your lot gets.
For the rest of us, we need to celebrate Jesus. Let’s get to the “how”. I’ll make it easy to understand: open the Bible and read it, then do what it says. There you go, “How to Love God 101”. God has kindly written down for us: who he is, what he has done, how much he loves us, what will happen if we reject him, future events and, in light of all of this, how we should live right now. How is reading the Bible better than singing or prayer? God reveals himself through his word, if you don’t know his word, you do not know him. If you don’t know him, you cannot pray or sing to him with a heart that honors him. He is far away from you (Proverbs 15:29), no amount of “O, Come Let Us Adore Him” will get you closer to him. Listen to Christ when he says, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!” Luke 11:28.
When we pick up the Bible to read God’s word, this is an act of desire on our part. We are desiring to know him more, to understand and see him. In essence, we are reaching out our arms to our Father asking him for wisdom, mercy, and love. Saying, “Please, God, give me more of you!” God doesn’t need us, but he loves us and knows the best thing for us is to become more like Jesus. When we model Christ, we honor God and exult him as holy. When we hold out our arms to God, he reaches out to us as well. No, strike that, his arms were open before ours, he is already stretching grace-filled arms out to us. We need to respond by grabbing his hands and joyfully being gathered to his heart as we enjoy his presence and listen attentively as he speaks to us.
That is celebrating Jesus, reading his Words and doing what it says. We often do just the opposite in December, we set our Bibles aside and rush around greedily shopping, planning and cooking. We may sing louder, give more and be at more parties, but then the emptiness comes. We feel drained, broken and tired. It is no wonder people try to “fix” themselves as soon as the New Year arrives. They have been grasping and consuming lifeless dust. Keep this simple verse running through your mind this season and forever, “Draw near to God and he will draw near to you.” James 4:8a. It has served me well over the years as a constant reminder of God’s faithfulness. It is truly life’s mission.
So begin now, read God’s word like never before. Get up earlier, stay up later, attend Bible studies and services. Be taught and study on your own. Be filled with what is truly good. Start the New Year overflowing with hope and joy; not because you will change but because you have already beenchanged by the power of God’s written voice. This alone will cause you to pray in sincerity, sing heartfelt praises, to give generously and to joyously fellowship like never before. This will cause you to do Christmas differently. You will truly be celebrating Jesus.
I see you. I see you coming in right as service starts. I see you sitting at the end of the row of chairs or towards the back, keeping your distance, staying wary. I see the hesitation of starting up conversations with those nearby. I see you… and I get it… but stop.
Stop thinking you are incomplete without a spouse next to you. Stop waiting for a human to fill some imagined gap that doesn’t exist. Stop thinking you are less beautiful to God than those around you. Stop.
This is your reminder today that if you are a single woman who has Christ as your savior, you are complete. Completely complete, lacking nothing. You are fully equipped to do the work God is calling you to right now at this moment. You are fully a part of the body of Christ and need to act as such. You are needed and you are extraordinarily valuable! Those of you with non-believing husbands listen up too, much of this will apply to you as well.
When God says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 7:17, “Only let each person lead the life that the Lord has assigned to him, and to which God has called him,” there is no asterisk. There is no note at the bottom of the page saying that this applies only to the happily married and that singles (or the unequally yoked in marriage) should just hold back and wait. No, this verse tells us that the life you lead currently has been assigned to you by your masterful and purposeful Creator and you need to get to it. Your life is your calling from God.
The married are in no position of advantage when it comes to godly living. In this same chapter, 1 Corinthians 7:28, Paul encourages those who are able to stay unmarried to do so because, “those who marry will have worldly troubles, and I would spare you that.” Paul’s clearly states his purpose for this in verse 35, “I say this for your own benefit, not to lay restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.” That is what all of us need to long for - undivided devotion to the Lord. Those who are single are in an especially good position to do this. Our God is a jealous God and he wants (and fully deserves) your complete attention and praise.
When seen in this light, this feels like a humbling and huge compliment from the Lord toward single women! He has decided not to share his attention from you with any man on earth. Think of the widow Anna, a prophetess who was there when Jesus came to be presented at the temple. She had full devotion to the Lord as she, “did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day.” Also think of Martha and Mary, single sisters who were close to Jesus and whose lives were interwoven into the gospels. They were witnesses to many of Christ’s greatest miracles and most awesome teachings.
Do not get being unmarried (or married to a non-believing husband) confused with being alone, I got that one wrong for years (see my blogs on loneliness). It wasn’t until I grasped that Christ completes me fully and not just partially that I was able to have my thinking corrected. Then I began to serve the Lord whole-heartedly. No longer waiting on a man to fill a gap that was never really there. I held onto the promise in Isaiah 54:5, “For your Maker is your husband.” He was the only one for me all along and he still is. He is the only one who makes me whole even while being married.
Single women, I want you to see your singlehood as a wise and gracious gift from the One who loves you most. That is exactly what it is, so take the time to praise him for it today. Don’t allow the enemy to tempt you into feelings that are contrary to this. Beautifully serve the Lord in the life he has called you to at this time. Women married to an unsaved spouse, pray earnestly for your husband to be redeemed by Christ, but don’t hold off on fully serving God and fulfilling your calling until he does, serve him now with all of your heart.
At the beginning of this blog I told you to stop…now I want you to start. Start to sit by me. Start to engage in the family that God has placed you in for your nourishment and to nourish those around you. Start to share your wisdom of God’s word with others who are desperate for it. Reach out for godly counsel when you need it. Start to participate in the lives of other women who are longing for friendship and a woman to talk with. Encourage, teach, help, serve, love, share. And in all these things praise God for making you completely his.