Better Than Normal by YouVersion

Quote

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

Faith Is An Action Verb

Quote

Some speak about faith, but God commands us to move in faith. Faith is an action verb.

~ Lisa Blair


Faith is part of the Lord’s equation. It demands action. Without acting in faith through deeds, there is no faith. Your deeds activate your faith, otherwise you are only speaking of faith, but not doing God’s Will to serve others in need, at home, work, or walking down the street.

Your faith is powered through love. So, yes, faith requires action, powered by love and activated through the action of your deeds.
Faith is an action verb. We do because the Almighty commands us to spread the Word and help wherever we can.

Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.

You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did.

You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” James 2:15-17, 22, 24, 26 NIV

Life of the Reluctant Follower

Quote

God continues to work through us as long as we are receptive and obedient, though He never fails to leave the reluctant follower behind.

~ Lisa Blair

What is a reluctant follower? It is someone who hears God’s voice but does not respond with immediate vigor, instead examining the pros and cons of how it will affect one’s life.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,“Today, if you will hear His voice, Do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,…They always go astray in their heart” Hebrews 3:7-9, NIV

I think we have all been there, and are learning that obedience is immediate, in the present, now, even if we don’t understand where God is leading us. God’s voice directs our walk and informs our thinking. When He says, ‘follow me’, it is not a request, it is a command. We are His children.

In Hebrews 3:8, the term today, refers to the present, and should not be delayed until tomorrow, the command refers to this moment. God gives no commands about the future, the action requested is in the moment. We are commanded not to worry about tomorrow, but to focus on the day. Therefore, it follows that His command is for the day and requires action in the day, or, today. Obedience to God’s commands should never be sidelined by reluctance.


A reluctant follower is one whose heart is hardened, meaning they have a stubborn heart, are self absorbed, and tend to procrastinate. Why do so many procrastinate? It could be that they are weighing the outcome because they do not know God’s voice, or they do know His voice but are slow to respond. Learning to identify God’s voice is important. Slow response is a form of reluctance.

Isaiah 30:21 NIV says, “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”
‭‭
The GW version says, “You will hear a voice behind you saying, “This is the way. Follow it, whether it turns to the right or to the left.”

God designed our path before we were born, He knows everything about us including when we will heed His voice and when we won’t. He gave us free-will to make decisions regarding our relationship with Him. He offers direction but allows us to choose to be obedient, reluctant, or non-responsive. The thing I have learned over time is that reluctance and non-responsiveness is our loss and we suffer the consequences of disobedience, later regretting not acting when God spoke. Failure produces a continual inner dialogue about failing to act, and a lost opportunity to follow God’s command. Reluctance also places you in situations where the lesson may need to be repeated. In short, you may find yourself in GPS mode where God redirects you to offer another opportunity to follow His Will.

We think we can camouflage our reluctance to respond to God’s command. But, the truth is, God knows everything, sees everything, and hears everything, and as soon as a thought enters our mind countering His command to act, we enter into conversation with Him. We open The dialogue with our thoughts.

Scriptures —biblegateway.com | References—Gotquestions.org; Blue letter bible.org. Sermon Notes for Hebrews 3:7-19. Chuck Smith; biblegateway.com, Commentaries, Hebrews 3:7-19 | Images—Google Images; LAB Photos