Enriched

Enrich

In school I actually enjoyed the vocabulary assignments where you are given a list of words to look up in the dictionary, write out the definition in your workbook, and then use it in a sample sentence. I loved learning new words or additional meanings to words that I already knew. This love of mine comes in handy when doing Bible study.

Aristotle always emphasized the need to use the right name for things, to be specific. This is especially true in the scriptures. Words have power in the Bible. Everything began with words because God spoke all of creation into being. God said let there be light, and there was light. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus himself was called The Word Incarnate. Since words are so important, then it pays to actually use a dictionary and make sure we truly understand the words being used.

For example, I was excited to see a recent Bible study use a definition of a word in order to expound on the scripture. The word was enrich, and it is a word I have read over many times without actually thinking about what it means. The verses being discussed were from 2 Corinthians 9:10-11:

“ Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness; 11 you will be enriched in everything for all liberality, which through us is producing thanksgiving to God” (NASB).

I had never really looked up or considered all the different uses of the word enrich. According to Merriam Webster, enrich means “to make richer especially by the addition or increase of some desirable quality, attribute, or ingredient:

  • To add beauty to
  • To enhance the taste of
  • To make (a soil) more fertile
  • To improve the nutritive value of (a food) by adding nutrients…especially by restoring part of the nutrients lost in processing
  • To process so as to add or increase the proportion of a desirable ingredient.”

So, God (the supplier) will enrich us so that we can be better seed (the gospel) planters and increase the production of fruit both in our lives as well as in the lives of others. He will make us richer by:

  • Adding beauty
  • Making us saltier since we are the salt of the earth
  • Making the soil more fertile where we are planting seeds
  • Restoring what is needed but has been lost
  • Increasing the proportion of grace to our lives.

When we study God’s Word, sometimes it is better to take time to actually focus on a section of scripture or even one verse instead of a whole chapter so that we can really grasp what God is trying to say to us. Like most things in life, true richness comes from quality not quantity. I have been doing a Bible study on Psalm 23 with Jennifer Rothschild. Each week she covers just one verse of the Psalm so that we can dig out all that God has to say to us in each verse.

Dr. Robert Smith gave a sermon during chapel at Samford University on Psalm 23. I don’t remember all the details, but he was talking about how he planned to read through the chapter while he was on a plane, but he never got through the entire chapter because he kept stopping to wonder at the individual words and phrases. A whole sermon could be given on just “The Lord” and who He is. This just emphasizes that we need to take the time to look in-depth at things instead of rushing to finish something so that we can check it off our list.

Priscilla Shirer talks about the process of taking a verse and studying it for a week, to really meditate on what it means instead of trying to read a massive amount of scripture to meet a goal, like reading through the Bible in a year. Reading through the Bible is not a bad goal, but if we merely read through to say we have done it, then what have we gained? The Bible says to meditate on His Word. Meditation is the practice of purposeful focus on something, which is more than a quick reading through a chapter. It is about understanding every aspect of a scripture and then trying to apply it to our daily lives.

If we want to be enriched, we have to take the time to let the Word sink into our roots, to soak up all the nutrients, and then let it seep out of us and into the world around us. Then it will produce thanksgiving to God.

 

The Surety of Adversity

Adversity Flower in Concrete

“Divine comfort is given that a man may be stronger to bear adversities. And temptation followeth, lest he be lifted up because of the benefit.” – Thomas A’ Kempis

Storm WarningI was listening to a CD of devotionals and heard an excerpt from Priscilla Shirer. She was repeating something I had heard her say in the simulcast where I got the CD. The idea that a storm is a given. You are either going into a storm, are in a storm, or are coming out of a storm. In any case, it will pass. Either the state of rest or the storm will pass as you move into the next phase of the cycle. Why? I think the quote above from Thomas A’Kempis spells it out for us.

When we are at rest, we soon forget who we owe the joy of rest and peace. Sometimes we even begin to believe that we earned the blessings we have received. We forget that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning” (James 1:17, KJV). Storms come to keep us grounded.

Matthew 6:19-21 says:

 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

21 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”

MistSometimes we must endure storms and suffer loss so that we will remember that everything on earth is ethereal, a mist that can dissolve as quickly as it came. We are merely passing through this world as well. As Christians our eternal home is Heaven where there will be no need of storms to remind us because we will be in the very presence of God.

How are we to live then, knowing storms will come as long as we walk this earth? Learn to ride the waves as they come. Be joyful in or out of the storms, knowing this too shall pass. Enjoy the blessings with a thankful heart and be thankful that in the storms we have the comfort of the Holy Spirit. Lay up for yourself treasures in Heaven through obedience to God’s Word. Then, as Paul says:

 “11 Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: everywhere and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.

13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philippians 4:11-13, KJV).

 

 

 

Alignment

Garage doorPriscilla Shirer told the story of how she was trying to leave for an appointment one day and her garage door wouldn’t open. They punched every button, tried everything they could think of, but could not get the door open. Eventually, they discovered that one of the lasers had been bumped out of alignment so that it was not connecting properly. Once the laser was bumped back into place, the garage door opened. Do you ever find yourself stuck in the garage trying to get the door open?

I often have dreams where I am trying to get somewhere, but things and people keep Dreamgetting in my way, and I just can’t seem to get where I want to go. I wake up frustrated and irritable. It is often a representation of my real life. I feel stuck in the garage. The door just refuses to open. Maybe it is a case of needing realignment.

GrapesIn John 15:4 says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” To be properly aligned, we must abide in Christ. To abide in Christ is to be obedient to His Word, which means we have to take time to read and meditate on the scriptures and then apply them to our lives. In the process, God prunes away whatever keeps us from producing fruit, allowing us to grow spiritually.

If we want the door to open, we need to align ourselves with God’s Word, and then He will open the door to the path He has planned for us. The answer is simple, but it isn’t always easy.  The alignment process may only take a small bump in the right direction, or it may mean a complete overhaul.  However, the process is worth it because it brings you to where you were meant to be. No matter where you are on the spectrum, I think the words of an old hymn sum it up beautifully:

 

Trust and Obey

 

Flowers or Fruit?

Have you ever bought something that looked good on the surface, but when you got it home and out of the box, it lacked substance? Have you ever ordered food that looked good, but it didn’t taste as good as it looked? Have you ever bought a book based on the cover only to find out the book was nothing like what the cover portrayed? I think everyone has been fooled by appearances at some point in their lives. That is why God is more concerned with our soul, what is coming from our hearts, than he is about how we look.

Society is impressed by a busy schedule. I had a boss or two who were more concerned that employees looked busy than they were by the actual outcome of the work. So, even though all of the work assigned to me was done quickly and efficiently, they seemed to think I was lazy if I wasn’t constantly busy. Productivity seemed to have no bearing on the situation.

As Christians, we are meant to produce fruit through our connection to the vine, Jesus Christ. In John 15 it says he is the vine and we are the branches. If we have a solid connection to the vine, it does all of the work to produce the fruit, such as the fruit of the Spirit. God, the husbandman, works with the vine to produce fruit, so if the branches get trapped in the dirt and mud, He will pick it up, clean it off, and bring it back out into the sunlight. He will also prune the branches when they produce too many flowers or greenery and limited fruit because His goal is fruit production, and flowers block the branches from receiving the vital nutrients they need from the sun.

You see sometimes we get so caught up in being busy for God that we do everything except produce fruit. Flowers and greenery may be pretty and look good to the world, but God isn’t interested in appearances. He is interested in producing fruit. He will cut back the greenery and flowers until He gets the vine back into the sun and back into its real purpose of producing fruit.

Take a moment to take stock of what you are producing. Are you producing flowers or fruit? Are you doing what the world thinks you should, or are you doing what God says you should? Flowers look good, but the fruit that comes from God sustains life. Which one are you: fruit or flower?

#GoingBeyondSimulcast #PriscillaShirer