LORD, I Want to Know You More

Ps 23

Recently, I was reading my Joni Eareckson Tada devotional before I went to sleep and something she said really stuck with me.

When reflecting about knowing Christ, Joni prayed, “Lord, I confess that I know more about You than I really know You.  I don’t want to be that way.  Never, never do I want my knowledge of You to be an illusion.  Help me to consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing You.”

When I read that sentence, “I know more about You than I really know You”, it jumped off the page.  I felt like the Holy Spirit was calling me to pay attention and ask, “Lord, do I know more about You than know You?”  As much as I hate to admit it, I’m afraid that’s true.

Why would I settle for knowing something about Christ, rather than spend the time getting to know Him and have a deep and growing relationship?

In some respects knowing something about God is easier than having a relationship.  It’s black and white, it’s on a page.  I can add to my growing list of truths what I know about God.  I can check off my box I’ve read my Bible today or prayed.  I can fit it neatly in to my daily schedule.

But’s it’s a whole different thing to spend time and get to know the Lord.  It includes being vulnerable and honest about my failings, fears, limitations and sin.  It’s taking a risk and waiting upon the Lord.  Will He really do what He says He can do?  Will I trust God when He’s silent, when His timing is different than my timing and when His plan looks a whole lot different than my plan?  I will be disciplined and choose to take my every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?  Will I take the time to put on the Armor of God each and every day?  Will I focus my mind when I’m reading the Bible and not be distracted and let my mind wander?  Will I seek counsel from God’s Word rather than from the world, or from my heart which is deceitfully wicked apart from the life changing work of Christ in me?  Will I meditate on God’s Word and let it convict, correct, encourage, strengthen and change me?  Will I set aside the distractions of this world…phones, computers, Facebook, Twitter and allow the silence to quiet my heart and mind?  Will I tune my ear to hear the chastisement of the Holy Spirit?  Will I bend my knee and say, “Thy will be done.”?

Lord, as we begin a new school year and study Your perfect, holy and inerrant Word, I ask You to help me know You more.  I want to know the Bible well, so I can discern truth from error.  But I also want to spend time getting to know You more.  May that time with You change who I am and how I live each day.  I want to trust You more, I want to love You more and I want to unashamedly tell others of the salvation and hope that I found in You Jesus.

Advertisements

Five Minute Friday – Narrow Path

“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it.  Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. – Matthew 7:13-14
The first Sunday after I recognized that I was a sinner and unable to save myself and received Christ at the age of 32, I started going to church.  During the ensuing years I went to a church that was Christian-lite.  From there I moved to a church that did expositional preaching but it was large and I found it easy to fade into the crowd.  One of my biggest regrets was moving to a church that didn’t preach the Word, but desired to make the unsaved feel comfortable being at church, rather than feed the flock. 
While at that church I grew very weak and took one of my biggest stumbles which I regret to this day.  Thank You Lord for Your mercies are new every morning and Your forgiveness is complete. 
When this prodigal recognized her sin and wanted to come home, the Lord brought me to Bible Study Fellowship.  It was through this in-depth Bible study that I began walking on the narrow path.  Soon after the Lord led me to a church where I was able to get well grounded in the Word of God. 
It wasn’t until I began studying the Bible, day by day for myself, through the power of the Holy Spirit I intentionally and purposefully began walking on that narrow path.  Through my personally study of the Word of God and applying it that I began to see that the Lord had a message for me. 
These days, I continue to participate in an in-depth Bible study through Community Bible Study.  May I seek to know You more Lord and obey Your commands through Your sustaining grace.  May I grow in wisdom, knowledge and truth.  May Your Word continue to illuminate the narrow path ahead. 
My Five Minute Friday submission is a day late…but I didn’t want to miss the opportunity to participate in The Gypsy Mama’s Five Minute Friday.  I must confess I took longer than five minutes this week, but it felt good to write and remember the goodness of the Lord.  Head on over and read the writings of many gifted individuals while you are there.  Perhaps you would like to try your hand at writing for five minutes

Five Minute Friday – Community Bible Study

It’s been my privilege for the past two years to participate in Community Bible Study’s Orange Evening Women’s class where we do an in-depth study of God’s word.  Last year our class went through the book of Revelation.  I learned more from that study than any other time I’ve read or studied Revelation.  This year we’ve been studying the gospel of John. 
For many years I was part of the Bible Study Fellowship class that meets in Santa Ana on Monday evening.  Those years of study took me from being a relatively new Christian to someone who knew God’s word for myself. 
There is nothing like studying the word of God in depth for myself.  It’s just me, the Bible and God.  I pray for the Holy Spirit to give me understanding.  God has revealed Himself to man through the Bible.  He tells us who He is.  He has revealed His purpose and plan for people and our world.  He tells us what went wrong, why our world is so messed up and why I’m so messed up.  He offers me hope that it doesn’t have to stay that way. 
When I read God’s word, I fall more in love with my heavenly Father and my Savior Jesus Christ who bore the punishment for my sin so that I could be forgiven and set free from sin.  Set free from the penalty of sin, the power of sin and one day from the presence of sin. 
This post is being linked to 5-Minute Friday courtesy ofThe Gypsy Mama, where you simply write for 5 minutes without worrying if it’s right or not.  Head on over and take the challenge today.

A Differnt Pace


This summer I’m finding that my life is going at a different pace in many respects. Make no mistake, following our recent move to our first home, Chris and I are finding out we could be busy every moment of the day and still have things left undone. But thankfully we are a little less busy during the summer months than during the school year.

We are both involved in an in depth Bible studies during the year. Chris attends Community Bible Study and I go to a Bible Study Fellowship class in Santa Ana. The studies go from September through May. Both studies are in depth and require an investment of time.

I’m so grateful for Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). I’ve learned so much over the years. BSF tends to spoil me for other Bible studies, because in comparison they are not as disciplined.

Each summer I find it hard to stay focused when left to my own devises. Sometimes I’ll start a study and before you know it…it’s September and I realize I didn’t complete what I started. There is something about the group dynamic and sharing with other students that holds me accountable and energizes me to study and share what I’ve learned. When studying on my own…I find I greatly miss studying God’s word with a group of women who love the Lord and desire to know Him more.

This summer I felt God leading me to study the Psalms of Ascent through Beth Moore’s study, “Stepping Up”. I already had the audio CD’s but decided to download the video sessions through Lifeway Christian Stores. I thought perhaps if I watch the video…it will fill in the gap that’s missing when I’m studying on my own. So far, so good.

Beth’s studies are much different than BSF. BSF requires me to dig deep and answer more questions about the text we are studying. However though Beth’s studies…I find it helps me to see God in a more personal way. To see the people of the Bible as real people, just like you and me and apply the lessons from their lives to my own.

At church this summer, the normal Wednesday night Bible study has taken a break. As a result…my husband Chris and I are going to hear Bible study teacher David Hocking as he goes through the book of Numbers. Being that I just finished studying it in BSF I’m familiar with the passages…but find that David plumbs the depths of the passage because he can go at a slower pace…going verse by verse, chapter by chapter. He’s not up against the schedule of the school year. Going through the study again helps reinforce the lessons from God’s word.

At the beginning of summer I was perturbed that BSF had concluded for the school year and that our church Bible study was taking a break. I thought…Satan doesn’t take a break and neither should we since we are in the middle of a spiritual battle. But then God convicted my heart. He helped me to see that I wanted something handed to me. I wanted to take the easy and familiar road. But instead…it’s important that I take the time to pursue God and continue to study His word…even when my regular studies break. It gives me a chance to see God and His word through different teachers.

So while Beth’s study is different than BSF…I’m learning to look closer at God and how He cares about each of us and is involved in our circumstances. It’s a different pace…but a good one. One that allows me to sit on the glider in our backyard and study while the sun goes down. I do believe that it’s a setting even Beth would enjoy and feel at home while studying God’s word.

Susan Blog Sig 2

Stepping Up


This summer in an attempt to stay in the word of God, I decided to work on Beth Moore’s study, “Stepping Up, A journey through the Psalms of Ascent”.

Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), which I participate in during the school year, breaks during the summer. At church this year, our Wednesday night Bible study is also taking a break for summer.

My natural tendency is to be lazy or let everything that is urgent push out the important and necessary things of life. Things like studying God’s word so that I may know Him better. Thus…I need something so that I can be disciplined and study God’s word regularly. If left to my own devises I wouldn’t study passages in depth. But with the abundant resources that are available these days I can stay in God’s word…even when my regular studies break.

I’ve grown to really appreciate Beth Moore’s Bible studies because I see the people in the passages as real people not characters in some fictional story. The lessons God is teaching through their lives I’m able to apply to me. Through Beth’s studies…I’m learning to look deeper into God’s word.

In going through the introductory session there were a number of thoughts that resonated with me.

  • What I’m going through here and now is just a flash compared to eternity.
  • Wherever I’m at now is not where I’m staying…I’m passing through.
  • This is not where it ends…I’m on a pilgrimage to Mt Zion…my heavenly Jerusalem.
  • Time is short…and the finish line is in sight. I need to keep moving and run the race to win.
  • Blessed (happy) is the man whose strength is in You, whose heart is set on pilgrimage.

These thoughts touched me because of challenging circumstances in my life. You know the ones that leave you longing for the glorious and soon appearing of Jesus Christ.

I find even in challenging and difficult times…if I keep my eye on Jesus Christ and try to walk with an eternal perspective…it makes the daily load bearable. There is a purpose in what God allows in our lives.

That’s easier said than and done. But it’s made easier as I know God more and more through His word. Through daily study and prayer. Then when the bad times hit…I’ve developed a habit that will help me keep my bearings.

It comes down to a matter of trust. Am I going to trust Jesus Christ and who He is? Believe what He’s revealed about Himself in His word? Remember His faithfulness and merciful and gracious hand towards me in the past? Or am I going to look at my circumstances and doubt God? When I trust and believe God…I can trust my circumstances in the hand of the Master who loves me.

Susan Blog Sig 2

Sin’s Perfect Sacrifice


In Your word
I learned of the sacrificial system
Instituted by Holy God
Who cannot look upon sin

When sin entered the world
Our sinless nature was changed
Try as I might…no amount of good works
Can save me from my sin

In my sin nature
I miss the mark
Transgress when I intentionally violate Your law
I descend into iniquity when I called evil good

Sacrifices seem so bloody…so brutal
Repulsed at the thought
Of an innocent dying
For the sins of another

The high priest of old
Laid his hands upon the sin offering
Confessed the sins of the nation
The sacrificial animal was killed…its blood sprinkled

What seems so brutal
Was the provision of a holy, loving God
To cover sin
Restore relationship with sinful man

Thankful to be living
When the sacrifice which cleansed me outwardly
Has been replaced by Christ’s perfect sacrifice
He died once, for all…and took my sin away

Perhaps I can imagine
Laying my hands upon Jesus’ head
Confessing my transgressions and iniquity
See my Savior afflicted and nailed to the cross

Would sin lose its grip on me
Would I recognize the high cost of my redemption
Would I realize that the only contribution I made to my salvation
Was the sin which Christ chose to bear

A plan so amazing
Conceived before the foundations of the world
My name was written with everlasting ink
In the Lamb’s Book of Life

By Susan Bunts Wachtel
February 4, 2009

Dedicated to Terri…thank you for so faithfully preaching the full counsel of God’s word!

Cause & Effect

The week didn’t start out that way…and it surely was not my intent to not complete my Bible Study Fellowship homework. But there it was…Sunday night and well after 11 pm, and the only thing I had done was read the notes. Yikes…how did that happen?

Yes, I had a busy schedule. But not more than normal…not really. I’d be hard pressed to tell you what I did that supplanted the attention that I normally devote to Bible study time. After going through a week without that personal study time…I can tell you…there is a price to be paid for not studying.

Despite the fact my lesson was blank I wanted to go to class tonight. I got there just in time for the lecture. As usual…Terri’s lecture was compelling and convicting. The images and words that Terri shared… I could not get out of my head. Terri described how two young girls hung on the words of a hymn and were in awe when learning about Jesus for the first time. They were in awe. When’s the last time I was in awe of God…or enraptured by what I was learning?

Terry contrasted that with their mom…who sat a distance away…with her arms folded. Ears hearing…but not a listening heart. Is that me? I pray not.

But God drove home the point…as I drove home. The Holy Spirit convicted me of not putting God first this week. Yes…I was in church…and at my regular Bible studies…and even attended the prayer meeting. But I didn’t read the Book. Each day…I’m eager to put in CD’s to hear great preaching…I’m drinking from an abundant well…but I’m left thirsty.

Then I realized…that by not taking the time to do my study, to read the Bible for myself…I was neglecting my personal relationship with God. There is a time and place for all the above activities. They are very good…but not when they take the place of personal Bible study time.

God brought to mind the analogy of a husband saying he was knows and is communicating with his wife…but he has no personal or direct contact with her. Instead of seeing her and talking with her face to face…or speaking directly to her on the phone…he’s satisfied with talking to her friends or family to find out how she’s doing. They may even be giving an accurate assessment of how his wife is doing…but it in no way substitutes for personal interaction. To know and see her for himself.

That’s exactly what I was doing. Listening to sermons or Bible studies is a good. But it never should replace my own personal Bible study time. Even if the Pastor is accurate and effective in preaching the word of God…I’m hearing it through someone else’s filter. I’m not hearing God speak directly to me through the study of His word.

The husband and wife analogy is an apt description. Just as husband would more inclined to start looking elsewhere and be tempted to stray when he doesn’t foster and maintain that personal relationship…so too am I vulnerable to wandering.

As the old hymn goes, “Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love”. But the remedy is simple, yet not easy. “Here’s my heart, Oh take and seal it, Seal it for Thy courts above”. That sealing…that binding takes place when I’m studying and reading His word for myself…daily.