Gather: February 2020
It’s our final week of the February Gather and we are so glad you have joined us today.
This month we’ve been Connecting Heart to Heart with God through passages of Scripture by asking Him three prayerful questions as we read:
What five things do You want me to know, Lord?
What three things do You want me to feel, Lord?
What one thing do You want me to do, Lord?
These questions get to the heart of the matter when we define heart as the sum of our mind + will + emotions.
We’ve considered the truths God wants us to know that influence our thoughts and the emotions He wants us to feel that affect our minds and actions.
This final week we explore the will, the aspect of the heart which reflects our desires and fuels our doing, in both words and actions.
Let’s return to our circles of movement.
The outer circle represents all the things we cannot control: circumstances, people, powers greater than ourselves (weather, government, economics). The inner most circle of a Believer is where Holy Spirit resides. In between these two circles is our heart represented by the middle circle: mind, will, emotion.
Will as part of our heart is what we desire to do. Our will can lead us to do what moves us away from God or toward Him. Recognizing what influences our will is the first step to choosing what we do.
What most influences your day to day doing? Or put another way, what everyday influences are you responding to?
Asking: What do You want me to do, Lord? sets us up to put our desires in line with God’s and do His will.
Doing is an important part of our walk of faith. It is in our doing we either submit to God’s Word in our lives or we reject it, in full out rebellion or simply through ignorance of the impact obedience to Scripture has on our lives. Sometimes we are focused so much on knowing, we forget about the doing.
Read James 1:22
- What does God call us to be through James’s words? Why?
God calls us to be doers of the Word, not merely hearers. He then tells us the danger of only listening and not doing: We deceive ourselves.
- What do you think it looks like to deceive yourself when you practice more hearing than doing of the Word?
When we know Scripture well and repeat it to others at the drop of a hat, we can begin to believe we are actually living it. Knowledge can be fuel for pride, while actually doing, obeying, requires humility.
We know that “We all possess knowledge.” But knowledge puffs up while love builds up. Those who think they know something do not yet know as they ought to know.
1Corinthians 8:1-2 NIV
Jesus summed up all the Law and the teaching of the prophets into a single command: You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself (Luke 10:27). Love God, love others. The other-centered love of the Bible is in opposition to our self-loving flesh. It always takes submission and humility to do what God calls us to. If we aren’t careful, our acquisition of Bible knowledge can lead to arrogance, judgment of others, and disobedience.
Something happens when we do God’s Word, especially when we do it in pure obedience without much understanding.
Read John 7:14-18
- Why did the Jews marvel at Jesus’s teaching?
- How did Jesus answer?
- What is the connection between a desire to do the will of God and knowing God’s teaching?
The Jews at the Feast of Tabernacles were amazed at Jesus’s teaching because they knew He had not studied under any rabbi. He was a trained craftsman who used His hands, not one of the “authorized” teachers in their community, yet He taught with authority.
Jesus told them His teaching was not His own, but came from the One who sent Him — God the Father. Then He says: Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether My teaching comes from God… (John 7:17 NIV). When we choose to do the will of God we find out through our doing whether it is actually from the Father or not. When we do the Word, confirmation of its source follows.
This is a primary reason to obey Scripture to the best of our understanding, because through doing we gain knowledge of the truth.
J. Vernon McGee, in his commentary on the book of James, notes the importance of a new Bible translation.
My friend, in spite of your limitations—which may be many—it is still possible for you to make the best translation of Scripture that has ever been made. Do you know what the name of that translation is? It is known as the Doer’s Translation. “Be ye doers of the word.” That’s a good translation— a Doer’s Translation.
–J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible Commentary (emphasis added)
Be doers of the Word. When we do what God’s Word says, to the best of our understanding and with the faith God has blessed us with, we bring the Bible to life and are given even more understanding and experiential knowledge of God, His Word, and His Kingdom.
Another reason for asking God what He wants us to do is because when we are born again spiritually, we become part of a new creation.
So if anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation: everything old has passed away; see, everything has become new!
2Corinthians 5:17 NRSV
We are no longer citizens of the world, but are now citizens of heaven (Philippians 3:20), even while we continue to live in these fleshly bodies on the earth. Learning what to do as a member of this new creation — God’s Kingdom — requires us to seek out His will. Just like children must be taught how to navigate the physical world, Believers as spiritual babies must be taught to live in the spiritual realm with its different ways.
Read 1Corinthians 13:12
- How do we see now?
- How will we see?
Currently, we know only in part and see dimly (NRSV). The Greek translated as “dimly” can literally be translated “in a riddle.” The Greek word used is the source of our English word enigma, which means “a person or thing that is mysterious, puzzling, or difficult to understand” (Google).
God, His Word, and His Kingdom are a mysterious puzzle for us while we reside in this world. But one day we will see Him face to face, fully know, just as we are fully known. The thing to remember for now, as He calls us to do something we don’t understand, is that God knows us fully. Because God knows us perfectly, we can trust Him with whatever He tells us to do. He knows what He’s doing, and why He calls us to do it, and as we learned from Jesus, the doing can lead to understanding.
This last week we connected with God through Psalm 8.
What does God want you to know from Psalm 8?
What does God want you to feel based on Psalm 8?
What does God want you to do in response to Psalm 8?
Through Psalm 8, God tells me He is Sovereign and trusts us with incredible authority. His majesty is evident in all He has made. Psalm 8:2 caught my attention:
Out of the mouths of babies and infants, you established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger. (ESV)
He wants me to know that out of the mouths of the weakest and most vulnerable He establishes strength, sets up a bulwark or rampart, against the enemy’s voice.
This verse has always been confusing to me. So I asked some further questions of God when He told me this was something He wants me to know:
- What does this look like?
- How does this work?
- What exactly do you want me to know about this?
I tried to think it out in my own understanding but none of it “felt” like revelation. I let it go. Later, as He often does, He revealed what I believe He wanted me to know while I was in the shower.
[Note: I call these shower moments. God often talks to me in the shower, and when I’ve shared this with others many have experienced the same thing. I think it has something to do with the water running over us, the solitude, and being naked and unashamed before God — like Adam and Eve in Eden before sin entered the world.]
What He showed me was babies and infants are evidence of God’s power to give life!
The enemy can only steal, kill, and destroy (John 10:10). Satan can only wreak havoc, not create anything new.
The cooing and babble of newborn babies — even their cries — set up a rampart against the enemy’s voice and his doing. God’s power to give life will always out pace and defeat evil’s power to destroy.
God wants me to know His life-giving power is far greater than anything the enemy can dish out. No wonder the enemy seduces so many millions to abort their babies each year. But even in this horrendous act, embraced as a societal norm for much of the world, God’s grace makes a way for salvation, deliverance, and redemption in the lives of the mothers, fathers, and babies.
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.
Isaiah 9:6-7 NIV
Out of the mouths of babies and infants, He establishes strength to still the enemy!
This knowing only enhances even more the feelings He wants me to feel: awe, wonder, humble responsibility.
And for the doing? Proclaim the wonder of His love for man, woman, and child in a way that brings hope to the hopeless and moves them to take back the authority He gave us in the beginning, all for His glory!
It was a hard day. News of death and failure left me feeling worn out. Fitful sleep combined with a heavy heart had me feeling restless the next morning. Because I’m a fixer, and there was no way to fix these circumstances. I’m bent to distract myself in times like this. Cleaning house, working, or doing is my go-to. As I sipped fresh coffee from the pot I thought, I’ll read Psalm 8 and get my study done. At least I can accomplish something.
As I sat in the quiet place and read through the Psalm, I determined to answer the questions and check this bible study off my list. This I could do. This I could accomplish. This I could fix. I opened my journal, and read the scripture. As I sat with pen poised over paper I asked, Lord, what do you want me to know?
God answered with a thought, These are songs. Songs to be sung. Listen to the song.
Lately I’ve been following a music group who writes and records a song each week based on the words of a Psalm. It’s no accident the song in my inbox for this week was based on Psalm 8.
I know it sounds weird. But for me, in that moment getting Bible study done was a way to distract myself. Checking something off my list came from my desire to avoid sadness and feel better. I had a decision to make, a turning of my will to my old ways or to His way. With a bit of a huff I put down my pen, picked up my knitting, and listened to the song.
In the listening I was reminded ancient words of the Psalms are lyrics meant to be sung, especially in the moments when we feel burdened and wordless. As my hands moved in the familiar rhythm of knitting, I found myself praying through my burdened heart. I let go of leaning on my own ability to fix, and began to sing along. As I sung my focus shifted, and I could hear the Lord singing over the circumstances I couldn’t fix. I became aware of Holy Spirit’s movement in all places, with all people, at all times. Yes indeed, Jesus, name above all names, is the most majestic name in all the earth!
The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in his love he will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Zephaniah 3:17 (NIV)
In our February Gather we’ve taken the heart apart and looked at the three primary aspects: mind, will, emotion. But what you might have discovered is they are really inseparable and connect to one another in a circular fashion.
Starting with any aspect of our heart – mind, will, emotion – we can be moved to do something. It may start with a thought, which stirs an emotion, which then moves our will to do it. Or we may first have a desire to do something which we start to think about and justify, which then sparks an emotion and becomes the driving force of the doing.
What we need to be aware of is all sorts of things influence our hearts, often times things we are unconscious of. But as followers of Jesus we need to guard our hearts and make sure God, through His Word and Spirit, is the ultimate influence.
We’ve been looking at Scripture, God’s written Word, or His Logos in Greek. But there is another “word” you read about in the Bible too, but you can’t see it outside the original language. God also speaks to our hearts personally in His Rhema word through the Holy Spirit.
What we want you to realize is time spent connecting with God heart to heart in His logos/written Word, opens our ears to hear the Spirit’s spoken/rhema Word for us. Here is where we begin to hear God’s specific call on our lives. But it all begins by connecting with God in Scripture, allowing Him to influence our hearts.
Jesus answered, “It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.’”
Matthew 4:4 NIV
The Greek for word in this verse is rhema. We cannot live on bread alone, but need God’s spoken word to truly live the life He calls us to. And be sure, God’s spoken word to you will be echoed in Scripture. It is Scripture we use to test what we have heard.
We hope and pray you will continue to seek God’s heart for all aspects of life and allow His mind, will, and emotion to influence you.
Until our next time to Gather… Blessings,
Carol & Stacy