Tag Archives: Faith

Growing from Survival to Flourishing

What area of your life overwhelms you? For a long season, when I thought of caring for the physical needs of our home and family, waves of anxiety washed over me. So many tasks that were always undone. My to-do list was never crossed off and guilt attacked me.

To begin to step out of survival mode, we have to change our perspective. I began to look at my roles in life through the lens of serving, not just surviving. What has God called me to, in this moment, this day? I will focus on that by taking my eyes off the never-ending piles of work and move ahead. God never calls us to do anything without promising to give us the energy and ability to work out that calling.

What is survival?

It is scraping through, pushing ourselves to do the next thing, making decisions based on what will keep us alive and moving, then collapsing, completely spent, when we’ve finished doing that thing.

What is flourishing?

It is operating from a quiet and controlled spirit, choosing the best option over the easiest and having order and a plan, looking ahead with joy and vision. It is breathing in peacefully and liking your life. It’s being thankful and content while also pressing on to the next thing in faith. It’s believing the truth and walking in satisfying relationships with God and others.

This little guy was planted early in my journey out of survival mode.

This little guy was planted early in my journey out of survival mode.

It would be easy to write a blog or a book about the steps out of survival mode (God knows I’ve read them all), but this isn’t a simple journey.

It’s external in the doing of dishes every day and retraining yourself in basic habits of self-care and hygiene and decluttering the closet and writing the menus out or sitting down to clean out your email inbox. But it’s also internal, in the daily retraining your mind to think ahead, to choose gratitude, to make harder choices.

It’s physical, in the 5 minutes of core exercises to rebuild your strength that feels like barely enough to make a difference. But it’s also spiritual, in starting your day with 20 minutes with Jesus and a glass of water instead of hiding under the covers believing that catching a few more minutes of sleep will make your anxiety of facing a new day evaporate.

It’s solitary, found in a favorite pen and journal, processing the jumbled pains and joys of the heart, or taking a 30-second break of solitude from the kids or the coworkers to watch the rain and sip coffee for a moment. And it’s relational, committing to serve your loved ones and bring them happiness, and also pushing yourself out of isolation into the sunshine of friendship again.

It’s choosing real comfort over desperate escapism. Reading a book or sketching a picture instead of mindlessly scrolling social media. Taking a few minutes to stir fry veggies and chicken for lunch instead of eating a leftover corndog.

Choosing to sit with your raw emotion rather than numbing yourself when you’re scared of the pain, because you’re ready to start healing and feeling joy and laughter again.

It’s saying yes to the things you love, over and over again, expecting the good to replace the desperate gasping for air, sometimes for months before your feelings follow your actions.

It’s pulling out the weeds of discouragement, complaining, fear and lies over and over again and tilling the dirt so better things can grow.

Flourishing is not a place you arrive. It is a state of mind you have to learn to choose, combined with a plan of action to guide the moments of your day and the state of your home away from chaos toward peace.

Here is the same flower months later, blooming in all its glory.

Here is the same flower months later, blooming in all its glory.

Can I flourish with toys and socks and dishes and random messes covering my home while three children simultaneously beg for my attention? Some days perhaps. If my spirit is at peace and my mind knows the messes are 20 minutes away from being tamed. If my heart is tuned toward the Spirit of God’s voice and not the clamor in my brain or the fear in my heart.

Good things grow slowly. One choice at a time. We can take one thought prisoner today and replace it with a grounding truth. We can make one practical goal for the week or month and focus on checking it off every day. And we step one step closer to flourishing.

God’s Word Speaking


she speaks 2016 elizabeth cravillion lindsey smith god's word
My cell phone vibrates on the table beside me. It’s 6:00 AM…my three little people will be getting up anywhere in the next 30-45 minutes but instead of letting their hands tugging on my blanket be what jolts me out of sleep, I’m choosing to get up and start my day before them. As a blogger who writes about the value of God’s Word, I feel like I shouldn’t type this next sentence. This is the first time in 5 years I’ve habitually started my day on purpose with Jesus.

I won’t rattle off excuses about struggling with this. I’ll just say that motherhood has been harder than I ever dreamed and I haven’t been finding my rest in Jesus like I know I can.

This isn’t about keeping rules. It’s not “to be a good Christian girl I’d better be reading my Bible every day!” Nope. It’s about knowing that only Jesus can fill me with joy and make me strong to face the challenges life throws at me.

A year ago, I retweeted something from Proverbs 31 Ministries for a chance to win a ticket to the annual She Speaks conference in Concord, NC for writers, speakers and leaders. And I won. Say, what?? At that time I was 6 months pregnant with my third child and had no idea how getting from Iowa to North Carolina would even be possible. But I was thrilled, and just waited to see what God would do.

God worked out every single detail of traveling and expenses and at the end of July I hopped on a plane, leaving my kids with my husband and mother-in-law and took off for a weekend of truth.

God has been quietly drawing me back to his word for a couple of years now. Books, podcasts, personal pain and frustration, this blog, whispers in the night… As my kids have been sleeping more at night, I’ve gotten stronger and I knew I was at a place where committing to daily time with God again was next.

she speaks 2016 elizabeth cravillion shaun a niequiest god's wordAnd from the moment I stepped into the conference rooms at Embassy Suites God’s Spirit invited me back to his Word. Woman after woman shared truth from the Bible reminding me that God’s Word has power and that I have all I need for life and godliness in Jesus Christ and his Word.

Can I confess something else? In many ways I stopped reading the Bible every morning because it stopped making sense. How could sacrificing sleep as a baby momma ever make sense? When I have no mental energy, how could picking up a book to study make more sense than mindlessly escaping to social media?

But God spoke so clearly to me at She Speaks: faith doesn’t always make sense. My brain screams, “Do this! Do that! Accomplish! Survive!” but God invites, “Come meet me in the silence and let me speak truth and peace into your soul.” That is the way of life. God designed me to live fully depending on him.

At She Speaks, Glynnis Whitwer said, “Study scripture for yourself, not primarily to teach it.” Yes. I need to pursue God for myself. Be filled with his truth and let it transform me before I can minister to anyone else in any way.

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Wendy Blight reminded me, “Teaching God’s Word is a high calling.” Every day I get to show up and say, “God, what do you have for me to do today?” If I’m not seeking him daily, I won’t be hearing his voice and won’t know what it is he’s calling me to obey.

God met a need I didn’t know I had through a conference I barely knew existed a year ago, in just the context that thrilled my soul. He is good.

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Balance: Looking Beyond Today

journey toward balance elizabeth cravillion*Note* Today I’m sharing some biblical facts about God and Satan. If you wonder where on earth I’ve found these concepts, click the hyperlinks and they will take you to the verses that spell out the truths I’m explaining.

Watching my little boy climb up the rock wall at the playground, I ask myself again, “Where did the time go?” Just yesterday he was learning to crawl. Now his spindly legs race across the park as he yells, “I win you!”

Why do we always marvel at the speed of time? Because a timeless God created us with eternity in our hearts. Time is strange to our souls. As is sin, which has infected the world around us. We rebel at the passing of time and pain in life and the separation of death because our souls were created to be pure and whole and to live forever. This paradox tends to throw us out of balance.

People often ask why an all-powerful God allows pain and suffering in the world. It’s a deep question that I’m not going to delve into today. But through the Bible I understand that God has allowed his enemy a period of time to rule this world, within certain constraints. Our world is presently “groaning” under sin’s corruption, and we suffer with it. Bad things happen to us because we are stuck in the world’s system.

God’s word emphasizes that we live on a battlefield. Spiritual forces, invisible to our human eyes, fight for dominance over this world. We know that with every war comes pain, suffering and every form of evil.

In my naive Western mind, I’m tempted to view life as a classroom, where every hard experience equals a test from my teacher, God. It’s pristine and orderly and I just have to check off the right boxes and I’ll get an A. When life becomes more painful and messy I start questioning God – what’s going on? Are you torturing me? Why do I deserve this horrible essay test when my classmate over there gets an easy multiple-choice quiz?

elizabeth cravillion balance peace spiritual warfare

In March our family experienced some spiritual oppression through seemingly unwarranted defeat and dark discouragement. We prayed our way through it but suddenly I, was flat on my back in pain in the hospital with pneumonia and blood clots in both lungs.

We felt blindsided and I really struggled spiritually as I recovered. Clearly I could have died but God spared me. Why did he allow all this? Instinctively, I searched for the lesson he might be trying to teach me. Was he trying to get me to admit he was in control? Was he out to prove something to me? I really feared God for quite some time and couldn’t put my finger on why.

So I spent several weeks searching my heart and God’s word for answers. This is what God spoke to me. I’m living in a war zone. As believers in Christ on mission for God’s kingdom, our family fights in the front lines. God didn’t attack me with physical sickness. Satan did. God wasn’t out to prove his toughness to me. He’d been shielding me from a fatal attack from the enemy. He love my family and me so deeply that he protected me that way.

As I saw this, I wept. And I learned some rich, beautiful truths about my God in a way I’ve never seen them before. I may never have learned them this way if it hadn’t been for this experience.

Did God allow them so I would learn a lesson? Do I really need to ask that question? How pain and suffering purify me and make me like Jesus is a mystery. This we know: the Bible declares God as our protector – not our antagonist. He does redeem the corruption of sin in this world, meaning, he makes beautiful things out of the ugly, but he doesn’t take pleasure in our pain!

So in daily life, I fall out of balance when I forget to expect hard things from the invisible spiritual world. I forget Satan and his demons are attacking me with their lies and corruption. Satan masquerades as an angel of light and blends his lies so easily with the truth. He wants to destroy me. He’ll use anything to defeat me, from my baby’s teething to my coworker’s attitude to my dad’s diagnosis to my chronic pain.

When I forget about Satan, I get discouraged, or beat myself up, or doubt God. But when I put my mind on things above and remember that while physically in this world, I can separate my circumstances from spiritual reality. This provides clarity I desperately need in this hard life.

The truth is, this life is not everything. My comfort today is not the end goal. And as a believer, I have confidence that,  because of his death and resurrection, Christ wins in the end over Satan. Sin and pain don’t win. Temper tantrums don’t win. Dirty laundry doesn’t win. Cancer can’t win. Jesus does. And I am his.

photo credit: _IGP0388_adjusted via photopin (license)

Balance: Just Because I Can

journey toward balance elizabeth cravillion“We must push beyond what is comfortable if we want to grow.” Susie Larson

They tell me it isn’t normal to be able to rattle off 30 or 40 people’s names I’ve been actively reaching out to on any given week. Camp kids I write letters to. Elderly people whose houses I clean, who I love on in a myriad of ways. Peers I email and call regularly. Everywhere, anywhere I run into a human being – that person becomes someone to care for and love.

Meet the former Elizabeth Skiles, the never-stopping, always pouring out caregiver. When God called me from a Kansas farm to Bible college, I especially felt like I was in heaven. Students and teachers all around me, who I could give, give, give to, every day.

When I took the Myers-Briggs personality test about 10 years ago, my results showed that I was 100% extroverted (by the way, if you haven’t taken it, you should). One hundred percent. My life literally revolved around other people. I loved it that way.

However, when you say, “God, do whatever you want with me and my life,” you may be surprised at what he starts to take away, and what he shows you about who you really are.

God began to teach me that by constantly pouring out, I was actually seeking for other’s approval and affection. Was it wrong to give, and love, and to be busy serving others with my time? No. But my motives to love others were completely intertwined with seeking love for myself.

So when I surrendered my love for people to God, he revealed just how deeply he loves and accepts me, no matter what I do. And he began to call me to be quiet and alone with him, and serve in uncomfortable ways that didn’t look like my definition of serving at all.

susie larson comfortable want to grow balance elizabeth cravillionFor example, I’m in my third pregnancy right now and I’ve discovered that there are seasons where physically growing a new life is my only service to God, because I’m too sick to do anything else. Motherhood in itself means your sphere of influence can go from wide to narrow very quickly as you focus on your children.

Or there can be lonely seasons of life, where you feel lost and disconnected from others. Using that time to draw close to God and learn contentment may be your one act of service to God.

Maybe God is calling you to a ministry of prayer in the quiet of your home, where nobody sees and knows how you spend your time. But it is service nonetheless.

I have introverted friends who say that for them, reaching out to say hello to someone, or offer a helping hand, is uncomfortable. To me, not saying “yes” to every possible opportunity to serve, lead, and meet others’ needs stretches me. For every person, “uncomfortable” means something unique.

What makes us uncomfortable is an area God can stretch us. It’s like a muscle that needs conditioning. If we never get off the couch, we’ll never become stronger. I’ve learned that balance in serving God means I trust him when he leads me somewhere new and challenging.

For me, that has looked like letting go of some ministries and being at peace with times of rest. What might it look like for you?

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A book that has been instrumental for me this year is Susie Larson’s Balance that Works when Life Doesn’t. It’s very practical and really goes to the heart of both physical and spiritual balance. Highly recommend it!

 

 

Balance: Not What I Think it Looks Like

journey toward balance elizabeth cravillionA favorite blogger of mine, Lisa Jo Baker, has been doing a 10-day challenge with herself to get back into regular blogging. I’ve decided I’m going to do half of that and blog for 5 days in the next week to stretch my mental muscles and prove to myself I’m capable of thinking about more than potty training or dish washing.

My  3-month goal this January was to become more organized and to streamline my routines. By the end of March I was feeling empowered and confident. I decluttered our home and my mind. We were creating good family habits. For the first time in my marriage I was beginning to feel like I ruled my housework and my schedule, instead of vice versa.

Then I got really sick. And pregnant. Enter my season of waiting and healing. I thought it would last all summer, but by the time second trimester snuck up on me, suddenly it was only mid-summer and I had energy to spare.

(Physical energy, I should say. Do you have any idea how much mental stamina it takes to grow a baby while parenting two toddlers? I didn’t – ha! It’s no joke. The blank mind. The forget-why-I-came-in-the-room brain. The after the kids’ bedtime zone out time. The “Is it only 10 am? Can someone please fast forward this day to nap time or we may end up watching PBS for the next 3 hours” thoughts.)

Once upon a time I had an unbelievable drive to get things done. Senior year of college I took 15 credits a semester (including two Biblical language classes), I headed up my church Sunday school program, led a Bible study, worked 3 part-time jobs, dated Nate, planned and designed our DIY wedding, and mentored several students.

Granted, that was a little extreme, but that’s how most of my life has looked in varying degrees, with little burnout. I’m not saying this to pat myself on the back – just to emphasize that God gave me this capacity to juggle many plates at one time and thrive doing it.

seek peace pursue it find balance elizabeth cravillionSo when he called me to a season of sickness and weakness when I got pregnant with Charles 4 years ago, I floundered like a fish out of water, but came to accept his leading. He has spent the last few years redefining for me what it means to be a Christ-follower in real life, and showing me that it can include times of quietness and inactivity. In essence, that I don’t have to act like Superwoman for him to love me – he treasures me just as I am.

I wonder if somewhere, sometime, I asked him to teach me balance, because in one word, that is how I would describe my entire married life. Over the past 8 months, I’ve been discovering some beautiful truths about balance. I’d love to share them with you in a short series. Because once upon a time I thought balance meant doing 50 things well. But it might not be. I know a little more of how multi-faceted it is and how refreshing a life spent pursuing peace can truly be.

Will you join me?

More Posts here:
Balance: Just Because I Can
Balance: Free Yourself
Balance: Looking Beyond Today
Balance: Recognizing Your Season

 

God is Near

As I wrote last month, I was laid up all of April, to the point where I wasn’t even cleaning my own house or doing my own dishes. My energy extended to changing diapers, feeding my children and lying on the floor while they played next to me. Things as simple as going outside and sitting in the sunshine exhausted me. As far as I knew, I could be like this for months. It overwhelmed me.

During that time, more friends than I can count came to our home. They washed our dishes, swept our floors, cared for our laundry, brought us meals, shopped for our groceries, played with our kids. So much kindness. Our families live far away but the family of God in our city embraced us.

clouds elizabeth cravillion deeper life james bible studyI have a memo board in my kitchen where I write Scripture verses and at some point, someone who cleaned my kitchen (no idea who) erased the faded verse on there and wrote a new one.

“The Lord is good to all, and his mercy is over all he has made.”

Somehow, just that little gesture touched me. Not only were people caring for us physically, but they were speaking words of life and hope into our hearts as well.

In the beginning of May my health switch flipped and I began to feel surges of strength and energy. By the end of the month I’d even felt well enough to start working on establishing some family routine again..

Today, I’m back to myself. The kids and I picked strawberries outside in the perfect summer sunshine and I just couldn’t help thinking about God’s goodness. His mercy. He says kindly in his word, “I’m never going to leave you. I’m always with you. I know what you need. I love you.”

IMG_0335.jpgDo you have trouble believing this for yourself? Start naming his gifts to you. Speak them out loud. Jot them in your phone or a journal or on the back of an envelope. Open your eyes and see. Breathe the air in. Is it storming? Feel the cool sweetness. Is the sun beating down? Soak in its warmth. Can you taste the crunch of your bagel or the crispness of your green beans? Let it nourish you. Did the driver at the stop sign wave you to go first? Appreciate that. Are your kids screaming and banging and spilling things? Just listen to their voices and remember being that young and enjoy being a witness their youth.

God’s mercy is real. It’s not just about the gifts he gives us, either. It’s about his daily presence in our lives. It’s how he decisively stepped into time and space to experience life as a human himself and pay the penalty for our sin and then said, “If you just believe in me, I will cover you and all your shortcomings with my perfection and holiness and draw you close to me. I will do it all. Come after me and find peace to quiet your soul no matter what happens in your life.”

Life in this world is hard. Sin has touched everything. Sickness, pain, death, sorrow – it can threaten to engulf us. It paints black clouds and we may not find the silver linings.

But God is good and he surrounds us on the darkest days when we can’t feel it and the days of laughter and sunshine. Every moment he is near.

So…What’s Up with You?

Sometimes life throws a curveball at you and there’s not much you can do about it. It’s spring now and in our home that means baseball. Opening day is a national holiday here. We even planned an awesomely fun cookout to celebrate this year.

But we never had the cookout.

A week before opening day, aka Easter this year, I went to the ER with beyond severe pain in my upper back and side, ended up being diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs and promptly admitted to the hospital. 24 hours and a CT scan later I was also diagnosed with blood clots in both lungs.

IMG_3047The next day a doctor sat down with me to answer my questions and one of the first things she said to me was that when people end up in my position, blood clots sitting in the safest possible place in their body, having come from who knows where, who knows when, she tells them they should go play the lottery because their stars have aligned.

That statement is still sinking in. And any time I repeat it a whole new wave of deep emotions shakes my soul. I’m not sitting here typing this blog entry today because I’m lucky, however. I’m here because God, who holds my times in his hand, ordained that I live more days on this planet with the ones I love.

IMG_3048I have a Facebook page for this blog, and each time I get on my personal Facebook, the site informs me that it’s been over 4 weeks since my readers have heard from me. Thanks, social media. I’ve wanted to write again but for obvious reasons that hasn’t been possible.

I’m home now, resting and recovering, being well cared for by dear ones. The weariness has engulfed me for weeks, and I finally feel the energy creeping back into my bones.

I tell my three-year-old, “Momma isn’t sick anymore. Momma just needs to get stronger.” It helps with his fears that I’ll be gone again like I was for 6 days in the hospital. And it’s also the truth. I’m waiting for my strength to return.

By the way…a week before all this happened, we discovered that we are expecting Baby #3 in November. Surprise, Cravillion family! Think God has some kind of plan for our sanctification lately? It might be a long summer, folks. :)

I have a lot of thoughts and hopes for this blog this summer (the first being to finish the James study!) so as I’m able, I’ll be writing again. Thank you for your patience, and your love and support.

Enjoy some sunshine today and thank God for the breath he’s given you today!

Wisdom from Heaven – Deeper Life: James – Day 14

deeper life bible study james wisdom from above god elizabeth cravillionBegin your time with prayer

Scripture
James 3:13-18 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct he should show his works done in the gentleness that wisdom brings. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfishness in your hearts, do not boast and tell lies against the truth. Such wisdom does not come from above but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where there is jealousy and selfishness, there is disorder and every evil practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, accommodating, full of mercy and good fruit, impartial, and not hypocritical. And the fruit that consists of righteousness is planted in peace among those who make peace.

Reactions
How many times is “wisdom” mentioned here?

What do you think of when you hear that word?

Digging below the surface
What are the evidences of true wisdom? (comb through the whole passage and make a list)

What are the evidences of earthly wisdom?

Thinking back through the book of James, where does true wisdom come from?

Making it stick
What is wisdom? What do you need it for?

How often do you ask God for wisdom?

Notes
In this passage James points out the root of sin – bitter jealousy and selfishness. Jealousy is another word for discontentment. Selfishness describes a heart that worships anything but God. When I am either discontent or selfish, any number of other sins start to come out in my words and actions. I quit trusting. I quit giving. I quit loving.

But when I look at life through the wisdom God gives me – the truth that he loves me and his ways are best for me – I experience the opposite of those things. Trusting God always brings peace. And as I trust God, he purifies me, and grows good things in my heart, like gentleness, mercy, and impartiality.

So where do I practice discontent and selfishness more than purity and peace? Those are the areas I’m leaning on my own definition of wisdom rather than God’s.

Lord, I want to love peace more than I do. I want this harvest of righteous fruits. I know it will only come as I allow the Spirit to produce it in me. I know it will only come as you cut away the dead branches of selfishness and discontent in me. Please show me what I need to release and where I need to grow. Then help me to obey. I will obey you, Lord.

A Living Faith – Deeper Life: James – Day 11

Prayer
For 10 days of this study I’ve been sharing different things I do when I spend time with God. Think back through them and begin your time today with one of them or by just talking to God.

clouds elizabeth cravillion deeper life james bible studyScripture
James 2:20-26 But would you like evidence, you empty fellow, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered Isaac his son on the altar? You see that his faith was working together with his works and his faith was perfected by works. And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Now Abraham believed God and it was counted to him for righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. You see that a person is justified by works and not by faith alone. And similarly, was not Rahab the prostitute also justified by works when she welcomed the messengers and sent them out by another way? For just as the body without the spirit is dead, so also faith without works is dead.

Reactions
What does “dead faith” mean to you?

Have you heard of Abraham and Rahab?

Digging below the surface
To get the full effect of these verses, check out the details of these two individuals’ stories in other parts of the Bible.
Abraham – Genesis 22, Hebrews 11:17-19
Rahab – Joshua 2 and 6, Hebrews 11:31

How did these two people demonstrate their faith by their works?

Making it stick
Ask God to show you what part of your faith you are struggling to live out.

Is there something God is asking you to do that seems too hard?

IMG_0987Notes
God knows our hearts. When I say something, he knows even better than I do if it’s true. So he asks for my obedience. He wants me to trust that what he says is best and to demonstrate that by acting.

We can’t save ourselves. James isn’t saying that we can work hard enough to make God let us into heaven. Abraham and Rahab didn’t save themselves. They believed that God could save them. They believed God’s promises and lived like they believed them.

If I lived like I believed God’s promises, my life would change day by day. I would grow closer to him. I would reflect more of his light to the dark world. I would love holding nothing back. The broken places inside me would heal. Then when people looked at me, they would see Jesus. And they would know I believed him, even without my sermons.

Lord, I’ll be honest. I feel like living out my faith is a losing battle many days. The more I try to be consistent, the more discouraged I feel. Please help me not to focus on what I think are results but instead on just obeying moment by moment and trusting you for both results and feelings. I want a living faith that shines brightly to others, telling them you are worth it.

Deeper Life: James – Day 3

Prayer

Hello, God! It has been a rough day and I am just asking you to quiet my mind and heart. Please help me to focus as I spend time with you. I want to see you in your word today. I love you. I need you. Thanks. 

James 1:9-12
Now the believer of humble means should take pride in his high position. But the rich person’s pride should be in his humiliation, because he will pass away like a wildflower in the meadow. For the sun rises with its heat and dries up the meadow; the petal of the flower falls off and its beauty is lost forever. So also the rich person in the midst of his pursuits will wither away. Happy is the one who endures testing, because when he has proven to be genuine, he will receive the crown of life that God promised to those who love him.

Today I’d like to share an alternative translation that has helped me understand this passage better.

The brother who is poor may be glad because God has called him to the true riches. The rich may be glad that God has shown him his spiritual poverty. For the rich man, as such, will wither away as surely as summer flowers. One day the sunrise brings a scorching wind; the grass withers at once and so do all the flowers—all that lovely sight is destroyed. Just as surely will the rich man and all his extravagant ways fall into the blight of decay. James 1:9-11, Phillips New Testament

Reactions
What is James saying, in your own words?
Who are the two types of people is he contrasting here?

Digging below the surface
What is the common factor between the poor and the rich man?

Look back at the previous verses in this chapter. Who would you say is the truly happy person? Does it matter if they are rich or poor?

What does it seem God’s view on earthly riches is, from these verses?

Making it stick
How do you see yourself? Poor? Rich? Does it matter?

What do you have to be thankful for, no matter what the state of your checking account?

deeper life elizabeth cravillion james day 3 bible studyNotes
Money. James digs into this touchy subject right away. Poor, rich, middle class people – these will always exist. James quickly points out the great equalizer: our mortality. We will die. Money will pass away. Our stuff will get broken, and wear out, or go out of style.

The truly happy person recognizes what God is doing in his heart. If I feel poor at the moment, I can be thankful that “God has called me to true riches.” If I’m doing better financially, I can be thankful that God has shown me my true need that can’t be met with money – my need for God.

God’s work, that carving out patient endurance in my heart through the trials and challenges I face, will last forever. I need more of God. Nothing else really matters.

Lord, help me to focus on you, and the true, eternal riches of a godly character and a steadfast heart and the crown of life. May I be patient in temptations and trials. None of those things come naturally. Help me, dear God. I want to see things the way you see them. I want to trust you and not worry about money, or compare myself with those who have more than I do. Be the center of my life, Jesus.