Better Than Normal by YouVersion

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We struggle trying to be normal when being normal means reinforcing the things of this world and not striving to be more like Christ. We should strive to be better than normal. Our mission is to become more like Christ and not of this world.

~ Lisa Blair

Better Than Normal is a YouVersion@Bible.com 7-Day Devotional. I am sharing Day 5. It is a great thought to begin our week.

What is normal?

Normal means conforming to a standard, type, or regular pattern. The term normal usually refers to something that’s typical or natural and something that most people do, and abnormal appears to be the opposite. With that in mind, we’ll define normal in the following way: behavior that is typical, expected, and adjusts to a standard that society has put in place.

But with the amount of people who live on planet earth, is it even possible to say something is normal? What may be normal in one culture may not make any sense in another.

At times, our idea of normal gets hijacked, which causes us to panic and not know how to respond. “When will things go back to normal?” is a question we ask when things stop feeling normal or when we’re in a challenging season where the end date seems unattainable. But eventually, we get our feet steady and we say something like, “Well, I guess this is our new normal.” 

What’s so appealing about normal after all? Well, we usually know what to expect, and we find comfort in it even if it’s not good or healthy. But, comfort doesn’t always equate to health. So, what if we chose to look for a life that is beyond that concept of normality? What if we pursued a life that is better than normal?

As followers of Jesus, we’re called to live differently. The world tells us to follow our hearts, but we know that our hearts can be deceitful. The world says to have the perfect body, but we know that godliness should be our goal. The world tells us to put ourselves first, but we know that living a life where we give to others is more rewarding and kind.

In this Plan, we’ll look at some of the ways that normal just doesn’t cut it. Instead, we’ll learn how to change the way we live and leave the status quo behind for a better than normal life.

“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/rom.12.2.niv

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭10:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/1co.10.13.niv

“So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭5:16-22‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/gal.5.16-22.niv

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/php.4.6-8.niv

“Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
‭‭James‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/jas.4.7.niv

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
‭‭1 John‬ ‭1:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬
https://www.bible.com/111/1jn.1.9.niv

In God’s Likeness

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We are created in God’s likeness, His image. His personhood exists in us, and it is not by accident. He is not a respecter of man. We all, regardless of gender, race, religion, or nationality, represent Him in human form. He spoke life into us.

~ Lisa Blair

God’s image gives every person dignity, worth, and purpose. You are uniquely designed to know the God who made you, in this life and for eternity. How will the truth that God knows you completely and loves you unconditionally impact your life, your week, your day?

Bible Study Fellowship, Lesson 2. God Creates Humanity in His Image.

His Hope

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God is patiently waiting for all of us to become like Christ.

~ Lisa Blair

“God’s purpose for His people is that we become like the Lord Jesus Christ.” (BSF-Bible Study Fellowship)

For those whom He foreknew [and loved and chose beforehand], He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son [and ultimately share in His complete sanctification], so that He would be the firstborn [the most beloved and honored] among many believers.” Romans 8:29 AMP

God’s hope for our lives is to become more like Christ. This statement sounds easy, but is it really? The answer is YES and NO. Our mission as Christians is to read the Word, stay in prayer, and allow God to transform our daily walk. He expects us to treat people as Christ treated people, to spread the Good News as Christ spread the Good News, to become more than our sinful self-indulged selves. The more we read, study, and share, the more we become like Christ.

My Morning Routine

Reading is our responsibility, why because that is how we create gather the knowledge base we need to become more like Christ. We should read scripture every day. It may be a verse, a chapter, a book. Whatever works for you. I have several hardcopy Bibles – different versions, and parallel Bibles and commentaries. I also have several Bible apps and refer to scriptures and commentaries to dig deeper when studying. This has become the beginning of my daily practice. Daily devotionals also feed me each morning.

Praying is very important, I pray before I get out of bed, thanking God for another day’s journey and praising Him for who He is in my life. I also pray throughout the day and praise Him every time I see Him is something I see or am doing.

Thoughts on Transformation

I find that as I continue to mature in the Word, I notice my transformation and His activity that weaves through my life.

As we become more knowledgeable, most of us experience the need to share what is going on in our lives. The light of the Holy Spirit breaks through our continence. People recognize a difference in us. we begin to shine as we beccome more Christ-like.

One thing I have found, as well as those who shared the same experience, is that as you recognize God’s love, and your relationship with Him grows, He expects more of you. He will put you in positions and situations to pray for others; you will see Him orchestrating your life more and more. And, for some of us, He invites us to become spiritual leaders in some capacity. If this happens, it’s easier to say, Yes Lord,” early on. He will not stop asking. He knows what we need to grow and become more like Christ. And He will continue to move you in the direction we should go.

One of my many stories about my Walk.

God will always provide the game plan for your life if you ask, or when He charges you with new responsibilities. Most of us doubt our readiness; Moses doubted his ability when God charged Him to save His people. Moses was just one of many. We never really feel we are ready. But when God calls, He immediately tells us how to go about the task. He will train you. All you have to do is be obedient. For example, many years ago, one of my Boardmembers told me about BSF and invited me to attend. I said I did not have time. God is patient. He waited awhile and introduced another person who invited me to join BSF. I said, once more, I do not have time, thank you anyway. The third time he asked, he arranged for me to be free of excuses, and I agreed to go with the third friend that asked. That was three years ago. In my second year, the Lord put it on my heart to sign up as a leader. I did, hesitantly, not because I feared becoming a leader, I had been one throughout my career. Not because I felt inadequate, I had served as a teen Bible Study teacher. I was hesitant because this was a new level of serving Him.

This past year the pandemic hit, and the world began to shelter-in-place. Well, my 11-year-old Granddaughter lives with us, and this year she is attending Virtual 7th grade through our district; the schools have not reopened in California. With this in mind, I declined to serve as a BSF Group leader this year, using the excuse that I may have to become a home-teacher. This was in June. In late July, God shared He wanted me to lead a BSF group this year. I said I have other responsibilities with my granddaughters’ education this year in addition to other commitments. BSF takes a lot of time. After I finished making excuses, I said, ‘okay’ and contacted our head administrator. She shared that many leaders had withdrawn for one reason or another (all pandemic related, including many were not comfortable with the ZOOM format) and that she was happy the Lord encouraged my return. The bottom line, God knows what we can handle. I have sixteen people in my group and a lengthly lesson each week, as well as leadership training, and my other commitments. When I was done making excuses, He immediately told me I needed to be very disciplined this year and laid out my weekly schedule. He provided time for every aspect of my life. God is truly an amazing, attentive, and yes, a demanding Lord.
Walking with Christ is very rewarding.

As children of Christ, we are blessed to have a relationship with Him. We are blessed to have the opportunity to become more like Christ. We are saved and have the opportunity to: confess our sins, repent – asking forgiveness, being forgiven, and renewed. Our walk is not easy, we have a sin nature that works hard to derail us. Our salvation is a daily endeavor because once we give in to sin, the struggle becomes more of a battle to get back to who we are in Christ. He patiently observes our actions and is pleased when we say, enough, your will and not mine. Our journey on this earth is ongoing until the day we transition to heaven.

Surrendering is one of the most fulfilling things you can do in this life. His hope is that we will accept Him as our Lord and Savior and walk down the path God placed us on long before we were born.

Resources: BSF Handbook; biblegateway.com

Images: Google images

Loving Like Christ

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Let the Holy Spirit shine through you. Being Christ-like is loving like Christ!

~ Lisa Blair

Most of my posts focus on the goodness of God and becoming more Christ-like every day; allowing the Holy Spirit to radiate outwards for others to see. The way to accomplish this is through love. We are to love all people as Christ did during His Walk, paving the way for us. Love is the fundamental law. If we achieve this, all other laws have been met. Continue to live your life through Him.

Image – YouVersion, Bible.com

Truth In Love

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“Speak Truth To Power Through Love.” ~ Lisa Blair

We use the word truth in a very cavalier way. It slips off our tongues with no commitment to its meaning. It is and then it the next breath, it is no more. According to Vines Expository Dictionary, the word ‘truth’ has an absolute force. It is not only ethical truth, but ‘truth’ in all its fullness and scope, as embodied in Christ, who is the perfect expression of truth. It also represents sincerity and integrity. It is the essence of the matter. There is no perversion. LOVE IS LOVE AND IS AN ACTION WORD.

Strong’s Dictionary #571 defines truth: certainty, stability, righteousness, and trustworthiness. Hayford wrote, Emet (eh-met), derives from the verb aman, meaning to be firm, permanent, and established, reliable. Truth is something upon which a person may confidently stake his life.

Let’s look at three versions of this scripture and it will become clear that we should change the way we use this term.

 My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth. KJV

 Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth. NIV

 Dear children, let’s not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions. NLT

KJV, key phrases – not in word or tongue, but in deed
NIV, key phrases – not in words or speech, but with actions
NLT, key phrases – not merely say, but show 

Using truth in a cavalier way does not empower us to minister to others. When we use truth without action we are not demonstrating truth through genuine love, we are not depicting the same truth Christ demonstrated during His time on earth. He loved all people and blanketed them with love. He did not say He loved people and then callously shun them. He did not say He loved and then gossip behind their backs. He did not see a person in need and then turn His back on them or look through them as if they did not exist. He did not stand up for a cause only if the right people were there to observe His action. Christ was and is genuine. When He spoke about truth, He spoke about the action behind the term truth which is love, the love of God.

As Christians, we need to adjust our lenses to see people as Christ sees them and respect who they are and where they are in their walk, in love. There’s a phrase people banter about, ‘don’t hate the person, hate the behavior.’ We all fall short of the glory of God. We are all on the path, whether or not we know it, or expect it. We are fallible and we are all sinners. 

In the framework of truth to power, there must be action behind the words truth and love if we expect to carry the Good News and minister to others in our actions and deeds. Truth through the action love is something we can stake our life on as can those who observe our actions. Our tendency to use the words truth and love can no longer be cavalier or lithe.

Images – YouVersion, Bible.com
Scriptures – Biblegateway.com
Resources – Hayford’s Bible Handbook, Jack Hayford; Nelson’s Chapter-by-Chapter Bible Commentary, Warren Wiersbe; Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, W.E. Vine