I cannot remember not regularly attending church. Not only did my parents take me to church, I enjoyed my mom telling my twin sister and me Bible stories while we worked in the fields. My mom is a gifted teacher and as a result, she made those Bible stories come alive to us. We would say, “Tell us another one!” Then she would start singing, Tell me the story of Jesus. Write on my heart every word. We would get so frustrated because she would keep singing that song just to irritate us and make us beg for more stories. She had a good singing voice, but her stories were better.
Then I went to college at Bob Jones University. I took a Bible Doctrine’s class where it seemed like we had at least a thousand Bible verses to memorize! Although I could get around in my Bible fairly well, I had not memorized much of it. My elementary and high school years were in public schools, but many of the students there had been educated in Christian schools. They could recite verses in their sleep, while I struggled. You could find me flipping through those verses attached to a ring while waiting in the lunch and dinner lines. There were quizzes every class period and points were taken off for every missed word. I passed the class, but barely. What a self-esteem killer to struggle in a Bible class in a Christian university!
KNOWLEDGE in the Head
For many years the Bible knowledge was lodged in my brain, but I didn’t have many life experiences to test it. I’ve found when life knocks you off your feet, you are suddenly faced with what to do with all those facts and promises from God’s Word. You can either claim it as truth and be comforted by it, dismiss it as heresy and become angry and bitter, or try to figure out life on your own. This is when the knowledge in the mind moves south to experience in the heart.
EXPERIENCE in the Heart
When that knowledge becomes experience and we respond in the right way by putting our faith and trust in God, a powerful testimony ensues! This is what causes the tears to form when we’re ministering to others who are hurting. This is what transforms sympathy to empathy. (Sympathy is relating to another’s feelings. Empathy is feeling what they are feeling.) This is why we feel compassion more deeply. This is what makes us shine in the darkness. This is what makes God smile.
Although we would never volunteer for the hard stuff God might deem necessary to send our way, when we see Him carrying us through that trial and the work He begins to do in us, it becomes an exciting way to live! To experience Him bring beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness: that we might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified is amazing!
This passage is lengthy, but please read these beautiful words from Romans 5:1-5 in The Message (a commentary). It reads…
By entering through faith into what God has always wanted to do for us– set us right with him, make us fit for him– we have it all together with God because of our Master Jesus. And that’s not all: We throw open our doors to God and discover at the same moment that he has already thrown open his door to us. We find ourselves standing where we always hoped we might stand– out in the wide open spaces of God’s grace and glory, standing tall and shouting our praise.
There’s more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we’re hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert expectancy such as this, we’re never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary– we can’t round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit! Amen!
I think Peter might be alluding to this in 2 Peter 1: 4-7 when he said,
Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust. And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith
- virtue; and to virtue
- knowledge; And to knowledge
- self-control; and to self-control
- patience; and to patience
- godliness; And to godliness
- brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.
PRAISE on the lips
Hopefully, after our knowledge has traveled south from our heads to experience in our hearts, our experience will turn north into praise coming from our lips.
The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth; and with my song will I praise him. (Ps. 28:7)
If we aren’t praising God for his goodness to us, then there must be a blockage occurring somewhere because He daily loads us with benefits. (Ps. 68:19) It could be because…
- We aren’t even recognizing our blessings
- We feel entitled
- We have sin in our lives
- We are apathetic to spiritual things
- We care more about what others think of us than what God thinks
Let’s keep the channels open for God to do HIS thing in our lives. He knows what is best for us, what we need, and where He wants to take us. Let’s be willing to take HIS route.
Keep looking up,
P.S. I am so humbled by you, my readers, who take your precious time to read my blogs. Thank you for your comments and encouragement. I love hearing from you! Have a blessed day!