Yall probably already know I'm crazy about my planners. Just before Christmas I decided to buy my first Happy Planner so I started following several #plannerbabes on Instagram for inspiration (I had no idea what an extensive and supportive group this planner community is, BTW).
Through one of the ladies I follow I found out about a community bible study that several people from the planner community were doing and they were inviting anyone to join in who was interested. It is a study through the book of Ephesians via the book "By His Wounds You Are Healed
" by Wendy Horger Alsup. People are able to share their thoughts with others, and follow other people, through the hashtag #faithplanningtogether.
What I think is so incredible about social media is that a bible study that started with 30 people grew to over 100 (200?) people, just by sharing the study on Instagram. It's still unknown how many people are actually participating but Angie (@colourmeblessed), the person who first initiated the study, mentioned that some people who contacted her said that this will be their first time reading the bible. To think that people could be brought to Christ through social media is a powerful thought! Sometimes I hate social media because I feel like we get too wrapped up in it (I know I'm guilty of spending too much time on my phone) but it some ways it can be a very good tool.
But anyway, the point of today's post is to share with you a few thoughts from this week's study. It was too much to write in my faith planner and is a short message I would like to share with anyone who is willing to hear it. This is not me preaching a sermon, I just want to share a few thoughts because they hit me right in the heart, and maybe, just maybe, there's someone out there who could benefit from them too.
The recurring theme that stuck out to me this week is humility. So many times we see Christians being boastful and proud, judging and even condemning others for their sins. We see people holding signs, screaming hateful words in protest of gay marriage or abortion or transexuals being allowed in Target bathrooms. But it's not always this overt. Many of us do the same thing to people in much more passive ways. Unfortunately, the Church of Christ has a bad reputation for just this. I've had conversations with different people on several occasions about church and religion and often times when I tell them I worship at the Church of Christ, they are put off by it. They've had a bad experience with either individual members of a Church of Christ or the congregation as a whole. They then they feel like they have to tip-toe around me, or be on their best behavior, because I may judge them as well, and I just think this is such a shame
*Sidenote: I realize that this is not something that only happens within the Church of Christ, but throughout all denominations. Later in Ephesians Paul talks about the church as one body and Christ as the head. He calls us to pursue unity with this body and what we must realize is that the body of Christ is every single person who has ever been reconciled to him. Not just people in the Church of Christ. Not just Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian or any other singular denomination, but every single person. When I've read about ONE body and ONE church in the past, I tend to think of my own congregation, but I have to remember that it is so much bigger than that.
Something I've been reminded of through this study is that we were ALL dead in our sins, completely hopeless, but God saved us by his grace. God is rich in mercy and saw us worthy of the gift of salvation, not because of anything we did on our own, but because he loves us. (Eph 2:1-10)
It's easy to become self-righteous when we see others living in sin. We must remember that we cannot boast because we are all human and we all sin. The author of the book states "If we really understand the juxtaposition between what we were inherently in our nature and what God did for us solely by his own love and mercy, we know we have nothing on anyone." We are no better than any other person on this earth. Our sin is no less than theirs.
Paul acts as an example of being humble and confident. In Ephesians 3:8 he calls himself "the very least of all the saints," but just a few verses later in v. 11-12 he says "...in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have boldness and access with confidence through our faith in him." We can be confident in the good news we are spreading and the manner in which we demonstrate Christ through our actions IF we understand God's great sacrifice and know it to be truth. However, this is the very reason we must stay humble. God's mercy, love and grace is for everyone and we are not superior to anyone.
This concept took me a little while to wrap my head around. What drove this point home for me (and actually brought tears to my eyes) is the example of humility that Christ demonstrated. Philippians 2:5-8 sums this up:
"Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!"
Christ lowered himself to be born in a stable, to wash the feet of disciples, to be mocked and scorned and to die in such a shameful way by the hands of the very people he came to save. Wow. Jesus Christ, God the Son, did all of that for me?! He did all of that for each and every one of us.
It is written several times that "God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble."(Proverbs 3:34, 1 Peter 5:5, James 4:6) Alsup states in this book - "humility and pride are key responses that indicate you either do or do not get the gospel and that we either are or are not being conformed to the image of Christ. May we be a humble people, not with simple politeness and sham diplomacy that masquerades as authentic humility, but with a genuine heart of a servant, esteeming others better than ourselves and letting go of our rights for the cause of Christ. May we be like Jesus."
My takeaway from this week is that God saved us by his grace and mercy and if we truly understand what He has done for us, we must show love, mercy and grace toward others with a humble heart. To judge with righteous indignation tramples on the grace that God has shown us.
I'm going to add photos of my notes pages from the book because there really is SO much more to this study than what I can transcribe here. I'm only three weeks into this study and I already feel like I've gained a better understanding of what God has done for me, where I stand, and why all of this is so meaningful. I look forward to learning throughout the rest of the study what God expects from me, how to interact with others, and gain a better understanding of my heavenly reality to be better equipped to endure in peace my earthly situation (this one is the hardest for me to grasp.)
I highly recommend this study to anyone
. The title is specific to women, but so far it has not been a gender specific study. David is reading it with me and has enjoyed it so far. It has sparked a few deep conversations between us that we wouldn't have had otherwise. (The book is just $9.99 on Amazon
and eligible for Prime.)
Thanks for enduring my babbling, but these things really touched my heart this week and I wanted to share. I hope you all have a really great weekend!
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Labels: faith, inspiration