Read His Words Before Ours!
1 Peter 1:13-16
1 Thessalonians 5:1-8
2 Timothy 4:1-5
Ever since writing for Gracefully Truthful, I’ve been continually amazed how the Lord perfectly aligns Journey Studies I write alongside my spiritual journey with Him.
We choose our Journey assignments months prior to writing,
and even longer before they ever go live on the website.
the Lord always leads me to write specific Journey Studies He knows in advance He will use to transform my heart.
This journey through 1 Peter has proven, yet again, God’s incredible timing and His miraculous voice through Scripture.
As Partners at GT, we committed to read through 1 Peter many times before we even began writing. Two weeks ago (which was months ago as you read my words today), I sat down to read and the tears began flowing as I fixated on the first chapter detailing birth into a living hope.
What I didn’t know when I chose this Journey was when it came time to write,
I’d be swinging from days of great hope to days that left me utterly hopeless.
Hopelessness has been hanging heavy here, Sisters.
But as I sat weeping with His Word, His Spirit breathed, and I was reminded of LIVING hope that is mine in Christ Jesus! Hope that is moving and breathing and actively working because of Jesus!
Our trials will result in “praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ!”
(1 Peter 1:7)
And because of that hope, sisters, that massive, freeing, and life-giving hope,
we land at 1 Peter 1:13…
One powerful word; don’t miss it!
Therefore means that “hope” doesn’t stop at “initial salvation”.
Yes, our salvation is certain and sure and these Scriptures that proclaim this glorious gospel are fully reliable because they are the very words of God that will not pass away. (1 Peter 1:25)
Yes! Hope is found here!
But “therefore” means it doesn’t stop there.
Therefore. Because of. For that reason. Consequently. It Continues…
Because our hope is so assuredly solid, we are called to prepare our minds for action, and take an active role in this living hope!
Our salvation, grounded in hope, is meant to catapult us forward into living with hope
as our inner minds shift.
At salvation, we surrender all we know of ourselves to all we know of the Savior, trusting Him not only to save us from Sin and Death, but to save us for the fullness of life. That radical transformation where we begin moving into life, comes as a result of an inner shift. A moving away from conformity to the ways of the world, and a moving into surrendered transformation as the Spirit remakes us into the image of Christ Jesus.
Transformed into holy.
Just as He is holy.
We can never earn holiness, Sisters.
It’s no secret you and I would never, ever reach the perfection of the Almighty God by our own effort. One little lie, one little lustful thought, and we are sinners.
We are justified and made eternally righteous once we choose to make Jesus the Lord of our lives.
We grow in our like-Jesus-ness through daily surrender as we keep our eyes fixed on eternal hope. This is sanctification through the work of the Spirit. If Jesus is ours and we claim His incorruptible inheritance waiting for us in Heaven, then we are called to conform to this gospel, and His holiness, leaving the ways of the world in the dust.
That means the TV shows we watch.
The movies we go to.
The people we spend most of our time with.
The places we hang out.
The way we think.
The way we conduct ourselves at work.
Everything about us should be different because of the therefore.
Because of certain hope in the trustworthiness of the Savior.
Our relationships should look different.
The way we dress should look different.
Our marriages should look different.
Our language should be different.
Not different because we’re trying so hard to look like Jesus.
Different because when we chose Jesus, an inner shift happened, hope grew,
we were made new.
We long to look like Him more than we long to look like
that cute mom we adore on social media.
For me, that’s a hard pill to swallow because I idolize, yes, idolize, other mamas.
Her hair is perfect, her kids look so put together, her house is clean, she’s so talented, AND she loves Jesus?! For a long time, I wanted to look more like her than I wanted to look like Jesus (sometimes I still do). I focused on transforming myself to become more like her instead of my King. Maybe that’s you too?
Eyes on holy.
When we say yes to Jesus, the radical inner shift begins.
I was about five when I asked Jesus to become my King; that’s when my inner shift began. Small, yes, but it was there. My focus changed from inward to upward, and I became passionate about others meeting Jesus! Hope grew the fruit of a transformed life.
Hope of salvation is not the end.
It’s the therefore that doesn’t stop there.
If He gave His life for me to live forever, surely, I can give my life to serve and love Him.
We have incorruptible hope.
It’s solid enough to anchor my everyday life and transform my heart toward holy!
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful, where it was first published. For other Bible studies like this one, check out GracefullyTruthful.com!
Cleanliness is next to godliness
Read His Words Before Ours!
“I have a gift for your girls! Are you home?”
“Yes! Come over any time.”
“Wonderful. I’ll be there soon. And Kendra? Do not clean a thing!”
I sighed with relief as I looked around at my lived-in home. There was always laundry to be done, diapers I forgot to throw away lying around, and toys scattered about. It used to bother me much more, but when company comes over my stomach still turns a bit when they see…
This is what my “real life” actually looks like.
That sweet friend came, armed with presents for my girls, and conversation about her days of young motherhood. With her son in college, her days of picking up toys are long gone.
As I showed her my twin toddlers’ infamously messy room, with books and dolls strewn about, she laughed and told me something I will remember for the rest of my life.
My friend is known for her immaculate house.
Her Christmas presents are wrapped in October with large, gold bows tied with precision.
So, I was stunned to hear her tell me this:
“Kendra, if I had it to do over again,
I would spend less time worrying about how clean my house was,
and more time with the people who came to visit.
I can see now that I may have made family members and friends uncomfortable with my constant running around and picking up.
I wish I hadn’t cared so much about how clean my son’s room was.
I wish I would have just spent more time playing with him.”
I smiled as I let her words run over me, knowing I would return later to process what she’d shared.
I began to think of Martha and Mary, the sister duo who welcomed Jesus into their home when He came to visit.
Imagine Jesus literally knocking on your door.
What would you do?!
I would probably pass out, which is totally biblical so that reaction would be justified.
Then, I would honestly welcome Him in,
while apologizing for my house being such a mess.
I would excuse the clothes in the foyer, still needing to go into storage.
I would laugh off the toys on the stairs.
I would explain how I still needed to paint the top of the wainscoting we added.
Then I would invite Him to sit on my couch, while laughing about the fact that I was actually going to clean the cover tonight, so that’s why it was dirty.
How do I know how I would respond?
Because that is literally what I say any time anyone comes over.
But sisters… Jesus doesn’t even care!
How do I know?
Martha’s story. She began serving Jesus as soon as He stepped in the door.
Which sounds totally acceptable!
Except… she spent so much time serving Him, she wasn’t actually being with Him.
She offered Him coffee (Or chai or whatever they drank… Wine?)
She asked Him if He was hungry.
She swept up after Him, hurriedly cleaning,
and getting herself in a tizzy.
Soon, as it usually does, that tizzy turned into frustration.
“Jesus! Don’t you care that I’m working so hard to make You comfortable?
I’m working hard and Mary just sits there!”
Jesus turned compassionate eyes on her, telling her she was getting herself in a tizzy.
He said she was anxious and worried and frantic and none of it even mattered.
He just wanted her to sit and to be.
THAT was her best service.
There’s an age-old saying (which, incidentally, is not in the Bible!), that became popular thanks to Martin Luther:
“Cleanliness is next to Godliness.”
But is it?
A pure heart, washed in forgiveness by the God of all righteousness?
Absolutely; that IS godliness!
Having a clean home? Being a clean person?
Not. A. Chance.
Honestly? Jesus was probably a pretty filthy man, physically speaking.
Barely bathing and walking everywhere, mixing sweat with dust will do that to a person.
(And you can’t get more Godly than Jesus because He IS God…so…)
Having a clean home says nothing about your godliness.
Only the status of your soul determines that.
We will NOT get to Heaven and be drilled for those seven loads of laundry we didn’t do.
God will not ask why we didn’t put away that bin of clothes before our guest arrived.
Instead, His Spirit is ready to prompt us now, just as He did with Martha….
Why are we spending so much time cleaning, serving, running, and doing
that we have a hard time slowing enough to listen to our guest?
Why not take the time to pray with them or show them HOPE?
Why work ourselves into an anxious tizzy (I’m clearly loving that word today)
by expecting perfection in our own appearance,
when the Lord has always cared only about the contents of our heart.
God cares about our hospitality, NOT our house.
Whether brick and mortar or skin and bones.
I am so guilty of this, guys!
If Jesus came today, I would be Martha.
Trying to prove my worth by the appearance of my home and my ability to serve Him.
I would completely miss the opportunity to actually be enthralled with Him.
Cleanliness is NOT next to Godliness.
Cleanliness can get in the way of Godliness.
The need to clean, the urge to perform, it can fill our minds, consuming our actions,
even becoming our idol.
And that isn’t godly at all.
Don’t let pressure and performance hinder you
from investing in people and being at peace with Jesus.
*In my struggle to spend more time with people rather than focus on performance, I’ve found the app “The Fly Lady” to be a helpful reset. Give it a try!
This Bible study first appeared on Gracefully Truthful and is property to Gracefully Truthful, as well. For further studies similar to this one, check out Gracefully Truthful.
Ruled by Rules
Read His Words Before Ours!
When I was still pregnant with my twin daughters, they were given a book called, “The Jesus Storybook Bible”. (If you’ve never heard of this book, go order it right now! Or you can wait until you’re done reading… but seriously. You need this in your life. Not just for your kids… but for YOU. You’ll see why…)
This “children’s” Bible had beautiful illustrations with some of my favorite current color schemes bringing the truth of these Bible stories to life in a way I’d never seen before. The author wove God’s great redemption plan through every story. For the first time in my life, as I read these stories to my babies after they were born, I saw a connection between the Tower of Babel and Christ’s birth, or the Creation story and Jesus’ death, in a way I’d never seen it before.
As I read this book aloud to my, often sleeping, babies, I found myself amazed.
Some may call it hormones, or maybe it was the Holy Spirit,
but I never cried over a book like I cried over this children’s Bible.
So, I want to share with you one of the biggest things I learned while reading this book about God’s truths.
Rules can’t save us.
Guys, I knew this already.
But I didn’t know it.
I could have told you that “rules don’t save us”.
I could’ve even told you that God gave us rules to protect us
and show us that we really need Him.
But I truly learned this one day while I was rocking my babes.
In awe, I read and reread the last few sentences of the story of The Ten Commandments:
“Only one Person could keep all the rules.
And many years later God would send Him –
to stand in their place and be perfect for them.
Because the rules couldn’t save them.
Only God could save them.”
How many times have we gotten stuck thinking that we need to be perfect in order to be loved by God? How many times have we thought that following the Ten Commandments, or even the “rules” that have become tradition and standard in the modern Church, were the key to being given grace?
Sisters… wearing dresses to church on a Sunday won’t save you.
Praying before every meal won’t save you.
Raising your hands during worship won’t save you.
Listening to the Christian radio station won’t save you.
Having a daily quiet time won’t save you.
We’ve got to stop thinking that we need to follow those rules
for God to keep extending His grace to us!
Some of these are still great guidelines to follow to help us grow in our relationship with Him… but DOING will never equal GETTING when it comes to a grace-filled, saving relationship.
Even further… following every single one of the Ten Commandments is utterly impossible for us because of sin. Go ahead, and take a look at the Laws and see how many you’ve broken.
You aren’t alone, every human being falls into the category of “sinner” because we’ve all broken the Law of Holiness designed by God, who is Holy.
We are doomed to Death because of our inability to perfectly fulfill the law!
God gave the Israelites the Ten Commandments for several reasons.
Yes, He cared about their personal well-being and He didn’t want to see them hurt. He knew that they could greatly minimize the hurt in their lives by following these commandments. Just like we know that children are given rules to minimize the possibility of their getting hurt. And yes, He needed to bind His people with a common law, just like we are bound by the common laws and constitutions of our lands.
But most of all… He needed to remind His children of their sinfulness. He knew that they would never be able to keep this law, and every single time they failed, they would be reminded of just how sinful they are, and just how perfect God is. James tells us that the law can be used as a mirror. Any time we start to think that we have it all together, we can just look in that mirror and realize that we have seven zits popping up, our roots are two inches long, and we haven’t plucked our eyebrows in a few weeks.
We are so far from perfection.
And there was only one Person who was ever able to follow every one of the Ten Commandments.
Once we choose to step into the grace that Jesus has extended to us, once we choose to fully embrace that grace, only then can the gap between “Us trying to follow The Law and miserably failing” and “The Law” be filled.
Do you see it?!
Do you see how the Gospel is literally woven through the Ten Commandments and every single law written after that?
It is amazing and exciting!
The Bible isn’t just a bunch of random stories placed together.
Every single story has a purpose, and that is to point to Jesus and the redemption we can receive through Him!
Hundreds of years before Jesus even walked this planet,
God was weaving His plan of redemption from His heart straight to yours!
This Bible Study was first published on GracefullyTruthful.com and is property of Gracefully Truthful. Check out the website for more studies like this one!
Read His Words Before Ours!
1 John 2:16-18
“For God so loved the world…”
God loves the world.
Not just the saints.
Not just the Jews.
Not just the believers.
Not just the Christians.
Not just the rule followers and law obey-ers.
Not just the mamas who seem to have it all together.
Not just the families that go to church every Sunday.
Not just the women who can balance their whole lives perfectly.
Not just the thankful.
Not just the healthy.
Not just the clean.
God loves the WORLD.
He loves the people overtaken with pride.
He loves the Muslims.
He loves the agnostics.
He loves the rule breakers.
He loves the mamas who get a little too angry a little too quickly.
He loves the broken families.
He loves the women who put on their lipstick while trying to drive a stick shift in traffic.
He loves the dissatisfied.
He loves the sick.
He loves the dirty.
God loves everyone.
It doesn’t always seem fair that He has the same amount of love for the person who doesn’t even try to live a godly life as He does for those who are working daily to grow their relationship with Him.
And as embarrassing as it is to admit, these thoughts cross my mind sometimes:
“I’m such a better mom than her.”
“I’m so much nicer than her.”
“I give so much more than them.”
“I present myself better than her.”
“My house is so much cleaner than hers.”
“My walk with God is a little shinier than hers.”
I bet I’m not the only one that thinks these things… (Read: Please tell me I’m not the only one that thinks these things!)
And even if I am today… I know I’m not the only one in history who has had similar thoughts.
The Prodigal Son’s brother.
The Rich Young Man in Mark and Luke.
I mean, just to name a few.
But one that stands out to me the most is this man we’re going to be talking about for a little while… Jonah.
Jonah. The prophet infamously known for being swallowed by a giant fish because he refused to go where God called him to go. But, why did he refuse to go to Nineveh? He was a prophet of the Lord! Shouldn’t he WANT to go where God’s love was greatly needed?
He thought the Ninevites didn’t deserve grace.
They were too far gone. Too dirty. Too lost.
Way too sinful.
And this is where my breath catches and my eyes start to tingle with tears of guilt suddenly threatening to spill over.
How many times have I been Jonah?
How many times have I looked at someone and refused to show them love because I thought they were too far gone? They were too dirty, too lost, and way too sinful for me to even consider offering them the grace that God gives freely to ALL? Sisters, if my answer is even “just one time”, that’s one time too many. And, unfortunately, my answer is way more than one.
My prejudice-ness, pride, judgment, and self-entitlement clouds my perception of others and their need for grace, while also radically fogging other’s viewpoint of God’s character of pursuit of His children.
We all have our own ideas of what “too far gone” looks like.
For Jonah, it was the Ninevites.
For some, it might be murderers, child abusers, prostitutes, politicians, dictators.
For me, sometimes it looks like another woman who is struggling to find her place in this world. And realizing that ugliness in me, breaks my heart.
I can’t believe that I could ever limit the love that I show someone based on my perception of them. Until I remember how dirty and lost and sinful I am too.
Jesus saved me, despite all of it, and in the sight of the Lord,
I am absolutely no better than anyone else.
Love can be so messy.
It can be so dirty.
But if Jesus can love the entire world… the abuser and the victim, the prostitute and the pimp, the dictator and the citizens, you and me…
then surely I can love the people that can seem the hardest to love.
Let us learn from the sad life of a man who would rather die than watch the Lord extend grace to people he deemed unworthy.
Because we are all unworthy.
This Bible Study is property of Gracefully Truthful where it was first published. For more studies like this one, visit GracefullyTruthful.com!
From Bible studies to blogs, articles to musings of the heart, Kendra's writings are unbarred and raw - exactly how she speaks.