Typically, surviving winter in Chicago takes nerve, cold-weather smarts, AND roasty toasty clothing. But this winter (more specifically, this month), takes it to a WHOLE different level. It’s like living in a polar vortex of snow, cold, and wind from which we cannot seem to escape!
While the cold and snow can close schools and mess with pre-arranged plans (like Tuesday and Wednesday Bible studies…), one thing it cannot do is dampen our spirits! And during this frigid week, let’s fight the urge to hibernate and instead, let’s step up to the challenge of rising!
By now, if you are taking the RISE 2014 challenge and joining us on our Bible study journey this session, you should all have your books and be ready to take the first step! This week, be sure to read the Introduction of Stepping Up: A Journey through the Psalms of Ascent! Beth Moore expertly will introduce you to how the study is structured and how she recommends we delve into each of the 15 Psalms we will be covering together throughout these 16 weeks! Next week, we’ll begin making those Psalms come alive!
Today, I want you to know how I came up with the RISE acronym and how we will be working through it together!
Three segments of scripture have been tugging at my soul lately. Because, quite frankly, they speak words that so closely mirror the deepest desires of my spirit: truly living in contentment and peace. These verses speak of the life I desperately seek and what I want my mind, body, and spirit to experience every day here on earth.
Then you can lift up your face without shame, and you can stand strong without fear. You will forget your trouble and remember it only as water gone by. Your life will be as bright as the noonday sun, and darkness will seem like morning. You will feel safe because there is hope; you will look around and rest in safety. Job 11:15-18, NCV.
Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Philippians 4:6-7, MSG
I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid. John 14:47, NLT
The question I had, though, is how would I get there – to that point of knowing peace? Clearly, just wishing for it to happen, even praying for it to come to pass, isn’t quite the answer because if it was – with all the praying I’ve been doing for it – I’d already be living it!
So God led me to another portion of scripture. One where He shows me that this contented life of peace in all situations and circumstances IS possible. But I need to learn how to live it.
I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength. Philippians 4:11-13, NLT.
Paul learned. So I figured maybe I should delve a little bit deeper into how Paul learned it and see if I might be able to build myself a little course on learning it, too. What did Paul do that led him to learn how to live this contented life?
Well, this is what I’ve come up with: Paul learned how to RISE.
You see, Paul was Reverent to God in all things.
He Intentionally took countless opportunities to thank God for all circumstances in his life, regardless of how it looked on the outside.
Paul spent much of His time Seeking God’s voice through sacred scripture, through the wise counsel others, and in silent prayer and meditation.
And finally, when he had done those things, he truly was able to Experience the Peace of Jesus.
So I’ve set out to learn it for myself, by following Paul’s example.
Here’s the thing. For me to really learn something, I personally have to know three things:
- what does it really mean (as in, what does someone in authority say it means);
- what’s in it for me (as in, what am I going to get out of this/why is it important to me);
- and finally, how do I go about learning and internalizing this (as in, what do I need to do to solidify this concept into my life).
So that’s what I’m inviting you to learn right along with me in this series. By taking each of the areas Paul mastered, and breaking them down into more manageable “bites”, I pray we come to a better understanding and grow exponentially into peace and contentedness in the process!
This week, just familiarize yourself with what each letter represents: Revere God, Intentionally Thank Him, and Experience Peace. Next week, we’ll dig into the deets of “R” (Revere God), figuring out what the Bible says about it, learning why it should be important to us, and how to incorporate ways to effectively practice it into our everyday life!
Have a great weekend and no matter where in this crazy, weather world we find ourselves, I am praying for warmth, sunshine, refreshment, and peace for each one of us! Take a few minutes this weekend to read over Job 11:15-18, and ask God to begin showing you what those promises look like for you!
Peace, love, and JOY!
Up Next Week: Revering God, Even When You Are Between a Rock and a Hard Place