Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Week Eight - Apprehended

I have never been arrested. I've had a few traffic tickets, but thankfully, I have never been sought and apprehended by the law. However, I have been apprehended by Christ, which is beautiful. 

The other day, God challenged me with the word apprehend during my prayer walk. Here are some of my thoughts.

Philippians 3:12-14 reads, "Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect: but I follow after, if that I may apprehend that for which also I am apprehended of Christ Jesus. Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus."

When the Bible says apprehend, it isn't the idea of being captured by the law; it means to lay hold of, obtain, understand, or comprehend. It's fun to reread those verses and switch apprehend for these various meanings. When you do that, the definition becomes more apparent. By the way, the word attain is the same basic word as apprehend, so you could change out that one, too.

When I meditate on these verses, I understand that Paul knew whose he was, where he came from, and where he was going. With focus, he humbly set his heart toward knowing more of Christ. That challenged me!

I began thinking: I was apprehended, by today's definition, when Christ captured my heart. However, according to the Bible's definition, there should also be an ongoing desire for apprehension. The love of Christ constrains me; holds me fast. Like the side of apprehending which means to lay hold of, I am captured and held by His love. Not only that but I long for more of that love and to know Him more fully.

Phil 4:6-7 reads, "Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." 

Do you see the idea of apprehending here? It is understanding that we seek. It alludes to us, passes all understanding, yet draws us in. It is the resting of our souls into the knowledge of God that brings us peace in all situations. It keeps our mind, meaning it guards and watches over us. And there again is the idea of apprehended. Apprehended by Christ, guarded, protected, watched over.

Look at one more passage with me. Ephesians 3:17-19 says, "That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fullness of God."

When we apply the definition of apprehend to this verse, the word we want to consider is comprehend. It is virtually the exact word as apprehend, meaning to lay hold of, understand, and make one's own. When we allow the Word of God and the love of Christ to lay hold of our lives, our eyes are opened to the vastness of His love and the power of His Word. We are captured by His beauty and in awe of the pearl of great price given for us and to us, making us His own.

Let me challenge you to allow your thoughts to be apprehended (captured) by this beauty. Meditate on what it means to be apprehended by Christ and lay hold of the truths given to you. You will be left in awe of whose you are, how far He has brought you, and where He will take you as you seek to apprehend (understand) His love.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Week Seven - Trust Your Heart

Happy Valentine's Day!

"Trust your heart" is a phrase we often hear and read on social media. We may even accept it as truth, but you might be surprised that God's Word does not advocate it. 

Proverbs 28:26 reads, "He that trusteth in his own heart is a fool: but whoso walketh wisely, he shall be delivered."

When we say we trust in our heart, we say we have confidence in ourselves, feel secure, and have our hopes set there.

Really? Think about your heart for a moment. Your heart is the seat of your emotions. Are they consistent? Have you ever been deceived or let down by them? Where might it lead you if you followed your heart in every circumstance?

The verse is also referring to your heart as your mind. Do you always understand the situations you face? Do you always have the answers? Hardly.

With this short consideration, I think we'd agree that our emotions and thoughts are unreliable guides for life. So, to trust our hearts is unwise.

What is wise? To walk with skill and confidence in God and His Word is much safer and more reliable than our emotions and ideas.

And what is the promise of the Proverbs 28:26? "He shall be delivered."

When we say we trust our hearts, we expect our hearts to deliver us from our problems, which is a misplaced expectation. Our hearts cannot deliver us. Most usually, they lead us into misunderstanding and emotional upset. 

However, God repeatedly tells us to trust Him. He is our deliverer, shield, and protector, guiding us into truth and delivering us from evil through the work of the Spirit and His Word.

When someone says, "Trust your heart," I hear warning signals because my Bible tells me my heart is deceitful and desperately wicked. I know it to be self-focused and rarely spiritually guided.

So, I repeat a different truth. Proverbs 3:5-6, "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

Where do you place your trust?

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Week Six - Positive Reinforcement

What makes you happy and lifts your spirits? This can be different for each of us. I am lifted by times with friends and a delicious iced coffee. Tom has been taking me to a little coffee shop called Skooters with a fantastic caramel iced coffee. It just makes me smile with every sip.

Another thing that makes me laugh is the game show The Price is Right. I have fun guessing the prices and enjoy watching the competitors' reactions. I've always loved game shows and playing board games.

Some people get positive reinforcement from food. Some gain strength from hugs, music, or family. I know others who need shopping therapy. They enjoy the search, the scents, and the bargains. For others, just knowing they did a good job or learned a skill to meet a goal is their happy place. While others enjoy puzzles, sports, or even a good walk.

Whatever you use to regain a positive outlook, lift your spirits, or make you happy, I hope you recognize that they are temporary. I should only drink one iced coffee. A steady diet of them, and they would lose their attraction. The same goes for almost anything we enjoy. All things are to be enjoyed in moderation, right?

How quickly something we enjoy today can be spoiled by overuse. But I have found this same principle does not apply to the Lord. Why? Because He is always fresh and new. His mercies are renewed every morning. He is the everlasting spring of refreshment and positive reinforcement. 

The positivity of the Lord is directed to us with patient perseverance. His thoughts toward us are more than the number of the sand and always for our good. We are loved with an everlasting love that always outlasts my iced coffee.

Dear friend, if you want something to lift your spirits, don't settle for a cup of coffee or a temporary fix. Bring yourself to the everlasting well of life where you will never thirst again. Let your heavenly Father be your eternal source of positive reinforcement.

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