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Aug
26

Label Me

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“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” ~ W. C. Fields

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I have been labeled often in my life.

Some labels have been accurate.

quiet, introvert, college drop-out….

Some not so much.

fraud, snob, liar, hypocrite….

Some were harsh and hateful and meant to destroy my self-worth.

fat, ugly, tramp, two-faced, prude….

Some meant to define who I was in the world.

mother, daughter, wife, writer, bee keeper, Christian….

Just as my life is fluid and evolving, so are my labels and new ones are created every day. Each and every time I encounter someone, a new label is created whether good or bad.

When I look back on my life and all the labels that have been assigned to me, I am ashamed that I have answered to the worst of them. I clung to them as if they were truth; the ones that were slung like mud to mar my reputation or out of misunderstanding of who I really was, the ones fed by gossip and rumor. And I allowed that mud to dry and mold my own mirrored view. Labels are nothing short of judgement, nothing more than an inaccurate view of what someone else perceives me to be because they do not like who I am, and often because someone else held me to a higher standard of perfection than they held themselves.

IMG_2378There was a time when I cared what other people thought about me – so much so, it drove me to try and please people just so I would be liked and accepted. I allowed it to create a gorge of doubt between myself and God and I allowed that space to fill with fear and unworthiness and humiliation.  It was the single most crippling, most self destructive thing I have ever allowed control over my life. When I really took the time to evaluate those labels, I realized something important: they were birthed from insecure minds spinning a worldly view of who they wanted to believe I was and had not one stinking bit of value.

I could have stayed there. I could have wallowed there in that mud hole coating myself over and over until I was conformed to the mold those labels were creating.  I could have allowed those labels to become truth. But I am not called to conform to what other people think. I am called to be holy because God predestined me, chose me and set me apart from this world and what it wants me to become. I am a citizen of Heaven with a passport to visit Earth. I have a visa to work here as an ambassador until He tells me my work is done, whatever that work may be. And He is the only one who can revoke either one.

In order to do my work well, I first must identify who I really am. So like any good Jesus loving girl, I grabbed my Bible and started reading about who I really am. What I found is I do have labels and every perfect one of them has eternal value.

IMG_2428So label me…..

Forgiven. Sanctified. Justified.

Label me washed by His blood, healed by His wounds; label me redeemed and label me set free.

Label me established and label me anointed. Label me sealed by His very own hand.

Label me chosen. Label me loved. Label me adopted. Label me His workmanship.

Label me covered and label me sheltered. Label me secure and protected and kept.

Label me a child of God and a joint heir with Christ. Label me the elect of God, holy and beloved.

Label me a soldier who can quench fiery darts and a victor who can tread satan underfoot.

Label me a witness and a city set upon a hill and a candle that shines a bright light. And God, please let it be so, label me the salt of the earth.

Label me a temple of the Living God and a vessel for honor and a precious jewel that sits in the hand of God that no one can pluck away.

You can label me a sinner, but you also must label me a saint.

I have been given the power of authority over the enemy of this world and that means I never need to submit to any label the world gives me, but can rest in the truth and the beauty of everything God says I am.

And when I am tempted to forget whose labels really matter, I remember what The Lord said to Samuel,

“Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 hcsb

Then I get busy studying my own heart and work towards making it pure and overflowing with love for my Savior so that I might be worthy to serve Him and do the work He has given me to do.IMG_0002

Scripture references: Ephesians 1:1, Jeremiah 1:15, I Peter 2:11, 2 Corinthians 5:20, Colossians 2:13, I John 1:9, I Corinthians 6:11, Romans 3:24, Revelations 1:15, Isaiah 53:6, Revelations 5:9, Romans 8:1-2, Colossians 1:13, Ephesians 2, II Corinthians 1:21-22, John 15:16, Ephesians 1:4, I Peter 1:5, I John 3:3, Romans 8:15, Ephesians 2:10, Revelations 12:11, I Peter 1:19, Psalm 91:4, John 10:28-29, I John 5:18, Jude 1:24, I Peter 1:15, John 1:12, Romans 8:17, Romans 1:7, II Thessalonians 2:13, II Timothy 2:3, I John 5:4, Acts 1:18, Matthew 5:13-15, I Corinthians 3:16 and 6:16, II Timothy 2:21, Malachi 3:17, Romans 3:23, Ephesians 1:1, Luke 10:19

Aug
3

The Fleeting Rightness of Time

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And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing by any means shall harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.” Luke 10-:18-20 nkjvIMG_5695

Scripture has much to say about satan and who he is, but simply stated, he was an arrogant angel whose failed attempt to usurp God resulted in him being cast out of Heaven. The thing I find most fascinating is satan does not even want to be himself; he wants to be someone else. He is unhappy, dissatisfied, miserable. He knows his own end. And he wants the same for us. He wants us to be anything other than who God created us to be. The best satan has to offer is the opposite of everything God gifts. Nothing satan offers has any eternal value; its perceived value is a lie and in our impatient, narrow view accepting this lie leaves us deceived, only temporarily satisfied, only makes us more miserable in the long term. Is there anything sadder and more pathetic than that?

Yes, there is. I know it all too well because it is a path well worn by my own two feet.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes a comparison of Himself and satan:

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. John 10:10 nkjv

IMG_5692Jesus gives me life to the fullest. Satan is merely a thief: he wants to steal my identity, kill my obedience, destroy my belief that God is everything He proclaims to be. The most important thing he wants to steal from me is Kairos: the time when the Holy Spirit wants me to act on God’s behalf to bring about His will.

Kairos is a Greek word, a noun, defined as the perfect, delicate, crucial moment; the fleeting rightness of time and place that creates the opportune atmosphere for action, words, or movement.

Kairos occurs over 80 times in the New Testament. And among the many verses where Kairos can be found? In the places where Jesus is saying, “My time has not yet come.” or “My time has come.” But where I want to focus is in Acts where Christ has assembled with the disciples and is commanding them to stay in Jerusalem where the phrase “times and seasons” is translated from the Greek word kairos.

And He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own Authority. But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem and in Judea and in Samaria and to the end of the earth. Acts 1:7-8 nkjv

IMG_5685Satan’s sole purpose is to deter me from being a witness for Jesus. He can not destroy me or pluck me from God’s hand. He can not annul my witness of Christ. But he can redirect my focus; he can deter me from good works. He can stir up fear that kills my obedience. He can inflict doubt which kills my faith. He can stir up hate that kills love, envy that kills gratitude, comparison that steals my joy. But the two things that do me the most harm are his created chaos which steals my peace removing me from a state of reverent belief and trust that God is omnipotent, and pride which suffocates my humility and keeps me from serving Christ.

Removal of peace creates anger and a false sense that God has abandoned me in my trouble. A lack of humility creates arrogance fueling a false belief, a complete and utter deception, I do not need God for everything. In those moments, when I have forgotten who God is and who I am in Him, I am just like satan and to me that is even sadder and more pathetic than satan himself. I know better. I know truth. I can do all things through Christ, not anything without Him. Yet, I forget much too easily in the train wreck of satan’s crafty plotting and scheming that I allow to derail me. And the only way to rectify this situation is to fall on my knees in reverent worship of the Father, asking the indwelling Holy Spirit to move so that I might be witness to the Son and His saving grace.

I must always be in a position to serve. Always. Jesus came to serve God’s will, not to be served and as Jesus’ disciple – I am never above my teacher. It is not my place to know how God works, why He acts or even when He will, but it is my purpose to be obedient when the Spirit says, “Move” because He is the only one who knows when the time is right to complete God’s will.

IMG_5694That is Kairos.  It is the perfect, delicate, crucial moment for God’s thoughtful, intended will to be carried out by me, His servant. It is the fleeting rightness of time and place that He has created for me to speak, to act, to move.  It is where I need to be. In every moment. Of every day. Because I am His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, that God created beforehand that I should walk in them. He knew my days and numbered them long before He created me in my mother’s womb, and it is why He thought them through and planned them out, each and every one for purposes unknown to me. All I must remember is they are known to Him; it is all the security I need and I must grasp hold of that with all my might.  And nothing ought to deter me. Not. One. Thing. And certainly not a lowly thief like satan who Jesus gave me power and authority over.

And God have mercy on me, if I stray from the path because satan has wooed me with promises of something temporary because I fail to trust, fail to believe, in the omnipotent power of God in my life, no matter what circumstances I find myself in, no matter how often I am flailing and unsure, confused and questioning.

It is my fervent hope and my honest, unceasing prayer that I will not ever fail to embrace these divine appointments, personally created for me by God, in the specific time and the perfect place He situated me in, and that always I dwell in kairos in oneness and wholeness with the Holy Spirit fully serving God’s perfect will as a witness for Jesus.

And that is my hope and prayer for you also.

Aug
18

Like Sweetness in Honey

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How shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things. ~ Romans 10:15 (nkjv)


Friday, I found God in a dream.  

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #22
I find Him there sometimes in the wee morning hours before dawn, but this time was different. The sunlight streamed through the window, warm and sweet, as I lay napping.  It is a rarity that I ever nap.  Sleep often eludes me even as the rest of the world is tucked in tight not letting the bed bugs bite.  But this afternoon, as I struggled to write, my eyes heavily blinking, finally drooping, it was then that I finally gave in to sleep.  I tucked myself into bed, snuggled under the covers.

God gave me a nap.  And it was good.

Then the phone rang.  I sat up straight in the bed and gasped for air.  I am certain my heart was close to exploding. I felt confused and disoriented as I sat there.  I tried to recall what I had been dreaming, but all I could see in my head was white script on black: Chapter 33. Then images flooded my mind: what some would call Bible thumpers and Jesus freaks holding placards with bold words – the end is nigh, save yourselves; people permeated with fear rushing about the city streets screaming.  It was complete and utter chaos.  And it was not the quiet kind I am ever-seeking.  In the midst were people standing still, quietly, diligently, praying and watching the pandemonium unfold.

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #23
For the next two hours, I struggled to find the significance of Chapter 33.  In the middle of dinner I finally made the connection. Sometimes during my quiet time with God, instead of working on my designated Bible study, I will open my Bible and read for a while.  That morning I had opened The Message and it fell open to the first page of Ezekiel. On the left page there was a description about Ezekiel and on the right was chapter one.  Before I started reading, there were only two things that I knew about Ezekiel:  First, he was a prophet and second, God called him son of man, made him eat a scroll and Ezekiel wrote to us that it tasted like honey in sweetness (3:3).  So, I began reading what Peterson had to say about him:

Catastrophe strikes and a person’s world falls apart.  People respond variously, but two of the more common responses are denial and despair. Denial refuses to acknowledge the catastrophe. It shuts its eyes tight and looks the other way; it manages to act as if everything is going to be just fine; it takes refuge in distractions and lies and fantasies.  Despair is paralyzed by the catastrophe and accepts it as the end of the world.  It is unwilling to do anything, concluding that life for all intents and purposes is over. Despair listlessly closes its eyes to a world in which all the color has drained out, a world gone dead.  Among Biblical writers, Ezekiel is our master at dealing with catastrophe. When catastrophe struck…denial was the primary response. Ezekiel found himself living among a people of God who stubbornly refused to see what was right before their eyes (the denial crowd).  There were some who were unwilling to see anything other than what was right before their eyes (the despair crowd).

But Ezekiel saw.  He saw what the people with whom he lived either couldn’t or wouldn’t see.  He saw in wild and unforgettable images, elaborated in exuberant detail – God at work in a catastrophic era.  The denial people refused to see that the catastrophic was in fact catastrophic.  How could it be?  God wouldn’t allow anything that bad happen to them.  Ezekiel showed them.  He showed them that, yes, there was catastrophe, but God was at work in the catastrophe, sovereignly using the catastrophe.  He showed them so they would be able to embrace God in the worst of times. The despair people, overwhelmed by the devastation, refused to see that life was worth living.  How could it be? They lost everything or would soon…Ezekiel showed them.  He showed them that God was and would be at work in the wreckage and rubble, sovereignly using the disaster to create a new people of God…

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #24There, I stopped reading.  I am constantly in awe of the things God will put directly in front of me.  And this was one of those moments.  I have told you that I am writing a book.  My book is about finding God in the midst of tragedy and affliction.  It is about not finding Him on the other side of the trial, but finding Him walking beside us with every step we take.   It is about knowing that God will never allow our destruction, but will rebuild us into newer and better people,  stronger and wiser people, people prepared to carry out His will.

And I know about denial.  I know about despair and desperation and affliction.  Six years ago, tragedy struck our family.  A truck rear-ended me at 70 mph as I was stopped in traffic.  I was 8 months pregnant with my first daughter and my 2 ½ year old son was in the car with me.  I spent months in the hospital recovering.  My husband, my oldest son who is now nineteen, and I walk a road that many before us have walked.  We aren’t bad people and the question has been posed to me often, “Why would God allow this to happen to you?”  Then the inquirer waits for an answer as if I have some secret access to God’s mind.  But maybe the access is not secret.  Maybe I am just willing to see God in places few are willing to look. Bit by bit, He reveals to me the things He wishes me to know creating a wiser me.  He walks beside me creating a stronger and more faithful me.  He performs miracles that leave me breathless and in awe of His sovereignty.  He teaches me to see Him in all of His glory as He breaks through desperation and despair and denial and affliction.  So you can see why I felt an immediate connection to Ezekiel in this moment. The words that Peterson wrote describing Ezekiel resonated with me and it was as if God was speaking to me. “Hey. Don’t give up.  I am working here.  Hang in there.”


Elizabeth Marchman Flowers #25

Now I know that you are hanging on and saying, “yeah, but what about the dream???”


Over the past few months, I have been feeling led to be a bit more evangelistic.  I was raised Southern Baptist so this is not something I am unfamiliar with, however, I know it is not my primary spiritual gift.  What I learned this weekend as I read, studied and analyzed this information is that evangelizing doesn’t necessarily mean knocking on someone’s door and sharing the Bible with them.  It can, but it also means that we use our own gifts to share the gospel with others.  That can mean art or songs, it can mean teaching or hospitality.  The ways we evangelize are only limited by God’s imagination and really, is there any limit there? In my case, it means writing and sharing how God speaks to me and where I find Him. It has been in the past few months that I have, as I told you before, begun opening my Bible and just reading it.  I think it is no coincidence that my Bible fell open to Ezekiel that morning.  I think it is no coincidence that I had a dream where God was giving me a message.  I am a extremely literal person.  God speaks to me in a very literal way.  I am a visual person and seeing words and pictures will clarify meaning when other methods do not work.  I am passionate about what I believe in and what I believe in the most is bringing God’s truth forward.  I have vivid dreams and I believe that sometimes, He will use those dreams to speak to me. I am not claiming to be a prophet.  I am not claiming to be any more special that anyone else God placed on His earth.  I am very simply sharing with you that, occasionally, God chooses to speak to me in this manner. I do not believe that He is urging me to stand on a street corner creating chaos and perpetuating fear, shouting, “the end is nigh.”  I do believe that this dream has certain meaning.

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #26
I live in chaos.  My mind races constantly and the racing feeds my insomnia.  I am rarely, if ever, still. It is not uncommon in the Bible that God caused people to fall into a deep sleep.  I was sleeping very soundly Friday afternoon.  I think that God just needed me to be still and quiet and without distraction for just a little while.  If it took a nap, then so be it.  In my dream is complete chaos.  Earlier I described it as pandemonium.  Now look at the word pandemonium and break it down…in the middle is this word: DEMON. What does the ruler of demons do? He creates FEAR.  People were running and screaming with fear and within all of the chaos are people standing still and praying to God.  Is scripture coming to mind?  Maybe…Be still and know that I am God.  God is sovereign and controls all situations, even catastrophe and chaos. He can control pandemonium as well if we are still and diligently praying to Him, listening for a response and for guidance.  If we are obedient, then lives are saved.  Not because we issue a threat – Repent or else, but because we show that God is good and worthy of our reverence by giving us a most precious gift in Jesus.

Chapter 33 talks about a watchman’s duty…this is quoted from The Message:

God’s message came to me: “Son of man, speak to your people. Tell them, ‘If I bring war on this land and the people take one of their citizens and make him their watchman, and if the watchman sees war coming and blows the trumpet, warning the people, then if anyone hears the sound of the trumpet and ignores it and war comes and takes him off, it’s his own fault. He heard the alarm, he ignored it – it’s his own fault. If he had listened, he would have saved his life. But if the watchman sees war coming and doesn’t blow the trumpet, warning the people, and war comes and takes anyone off, I’ll hold the watchman responsible for the bloodshed of any unwarned sinner.’ ~ Ezekiel 33:1-6

As I read these words, I felt the crushing weight of responsibility we bear as Christians.  It also reminded me of a favorite scripture in Isaiah:

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #27

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!” Your watchmen shall lift up their voices, with their voices they shall sing together; For they shall see eye to eye when the Lord brings back Zion. Break forth into joy, sing together, you waste places of Jerusalem! For the Lord has comforted His people, He has redeemed Jerusalem.  The Lord has made bare His Holy Arm in the eyes of all nations; And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God. ~ Isaiah 52:7-10


God may have made Ezekiel a watchman, but clearly, here in Isaiah, God is telling us that we are all responsible for being watchmen.  The word is plural.

So here is my question: What are we doing to bring the glad tidings of good things to all the peoples of the world? 

If we are watchmen, are we consistently listening for God’s guidance and acting in obedience when He calls?  Are we ever still and quiet enough to hear Him speak?  Are we praying for opportunity to spread the word of God to those who are seeking it?  Are we studying and preparing ourselves for the moment that God presents us with an opportunity?  Are we equipping others to save their own lives?

Elizabeth Marchman Flower #28
I wonder.

I have questions.

I pray.

Faithfully, God listens and then proclaims truth.  His truth was incredibly and undeniably sobering to me because I know that I cannot answer yes to all of those questions consistently.

You are probably wondering why I posted pictures of honey bees in this blog.  Honey bees are diligent workers.  Every day, they wake up and search out clover or flowers for nectar so that they can make honey.  Saturday afternoon, they were working away in a little patch of clover in my front yard.  I believe that we need to be more like little honey bees.  We need to diligently search out those who do not know Jesus and give them the words of God to feed upon.  Ezekiel tells us they taste like honey in sweetness.  And is there anything sweeter than God’s truth?
Aug
26

Label Me

“It ain’t what they call you, it’s what you answer to.” ~ W. C. Fields I have been labeled often in my life. Some labels have been accurate. quiet, introvert, college drop-out…. Some not so much. fraud, snob, liar, hypocrite…. Some were harsh and hateful and meant to destroy my self-worth. fat, ugly, tramp, two-faced, prude…. Some meant to define who I was in the world. mother, daughter,...
Aug
3

The Fleeting Rightness of Time

And He said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightening from Heaven. Behold, I give you the authority to trample on serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy and nothing by any means shall harm you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rather rejoice because your names are written in Heaven.” Luke 10-:18-20 nkjv Scripture has much to say about...
Aug
18

Like Sweetness in Honey

How shall they preach unless they are sent? As it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the gospel of peace who bring glad tidings of good things. ~ Romans 10:15 (nkjv) Friday, I found God in a dream.   I find Him there sometimes in the wee morning hours before dawn, but this time was different. The sunlight streamed through the window, warm and sweet, as I lay napping.  It is a...

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