The Joy of Obedience

We have “great joy” set before us in obedience. Christ is the greatest example.

Philippians 2:5-9— “Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” ESV

Yes, Christ was obedient to the point of death “who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:2:b). And the first part of this verse tells us that Jesus Christ is “the founder and perfecter of our faith.” He sets the standard. He is the example to follow.

To avoid obedience, we sometimes look for escape clauses, an excuse not to fully submit. For example, in his letter to the Philippians Paul tells us to not only look out for our own interests but also the interests of others. If we aren’t watchful, soon our service is whittled to what is convenient, best for us, without much concern for others. Or we focus on the “if possible” in the direction we find in Romans 12:18 to live at peace with everyone and avoid those we label “disagreeable.”

Categorizing some behavior requirements as legalistic is also a way to wiggle out of obedience. The legalist believes there are certain things we must do in order to be right with God. However, we become right with God when we receive the gift of salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ.1 Obeying God’s commands isn’t something we have to do, it is something we get to do because they reflect Jesus and as a new creation we can be like him.

Christ did not look at obedience as legalism. He saw it as a way to the Father’s will, and so it is for us. It is the blueprint for walking worthy of our calling which is God’s will. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he asks that they “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” so they might “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)

Our salvation doesn’t end when we receive the free gift of salvation, for we continue to break the bonds of sin that keep us from being all we were created to be in Christ. These bonds are broken when God’s ways become our ways and they are written on our heart through obedience… putting into practice what is taught until it is our nature.

Philippians 2:12-13—“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” ESV

God is at work in us to give us the will to put into action all His commands. It is His pleasure to do so. Pastor Tony Evans wrote this in his commentary: “The reason the Philippians could ‘work out’ their salvation was because God had already been ‘working in’ them. God had already deposited within them that which was to be worked out. He gives us the desire and ability to obey. Obedience is not based on our willpower, but on God’s power working in us.”2

In obedience we will find immediate joy because we will glorify God by demonstrating His love to others in our actions. And if we are glorifying God here on earth, we will surely hear those words “Well done, good and faithful servant.” (Matthew 25:23)

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Image by Daniel Reche from Pixabay

Let’s Talk:

1-What Scriptures did you once struggle with but now find they are part of your nature? How did you learn to walk in them?

2-Do you have a story of joy in obedience? Please share it in the comment section!


1-Each month I send a resource sheet to email subscribers. The September resource is a refresher on the scriptures that give a clear message of salvation through Jesus Christ. It’s important to use God’s word when delivering the gospel message. Subscribe and I will make sure you receive this sheet.

2-The Tony Evans Bible Commentary published by Holman Bible Publishers Nashville, Tennessee, 2019.

To Die to Self, We Must Know Ourselves

I do not know myself as well as I thought. The Holy Spirit continually surprises me with new insight and revelation. He reveals my heart raw and unfiltered.

When our spirit comes to life we connect with God. That intimate relationship that was destroyed by sin is restored at the point of our salvation through the shed blood of Jesus Christ. Our sins are forgiven and God accepts us as righteous and holy. We can become the person God created, but it takes some severing of our old nature. God has helped me uncover a lot that is not meant to be. His great love for everyone He created prompts Him to graciously reveal their hearts.

When we see our reactions and interactions in our natural state, the typical character or behavior that has developed over time apart from God, we begin to understand how to die out to self. And my hearts desire is to know this.

“And He said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” Luke 9:23

When I read such scriptures, I must ask ‘how.’ The Holy Spirit must show me otherwise I just don’t get how.

I have found when you ask God to show you how to practice a particular scripture, He will reveal its applications. Maybe not all at once, but bit-by-bit. He gives us just enough to grasp before revealing more.

As I ponder dying to self the Holy Spirit gives me verses. Particularly those that go against my nature and I find difficult to apply.

For example, if someone who is displeased with my behavior spits a harsh word at me, I want to reply in kind. But the Holy Spirit has given me Proverbs 15:1 as a plumbline scripture– “A soft answer turns away wrath, But a harsh word stirs up anger.”

To die to my typical behavior, which is to die to self, is to do what is right in God’s eyes and reply with a gracious tongue.

As the Holy Spirit points out areas of my typical characteristics and behavior that don’t match God’s Word, I know what needs to be severed. Basically, it is a change from self-centeredness to other-centeredness.

Practicing agape love is another way I die to self. My definition of agape is from “The Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words by Terry L. Miethe” and is defined as “intelligently, intensely willing the best for another.” Therefore, I do what is in the best interest of another person rather than putting myself first.

Jesus instructed “love one another as I have loved you.” (John 15:12) Then He revealed what this love is by his next statement. “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”

When I die to self, I lay down my life for others. My concern for their wellbeing is greater than my concern for myself.

Dying to self is a daily process. By taking up my cross, I am reminded I am a new creation and my old nature no longer has a tight hold on me. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I can walk in God’s ways which reflect Christ-like behavior.

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:

1-How would you describe dying out to self?

2-What scriptures are you learning to apply? How is dying to self an important aspect in the practice of these scriptures?

Therapy-speak May Alter Our Practice of Scripture

Scrolling through a list of articles published by Plough in my email, the title “Bandwidth and Boundaries” caught my eye. I have noted that a lot of Christian books are all about boundaries and I have been hesitant to read them. In reference to relationships, the word doesn’t seem very Christ-like.

But the term bandwidth made me curious. The author, Alexandra Macey Davis, wrote that a friend was noticeably absent when she was struggling with bereavement and grieving. When asked why she did not choose to offer any type of support, the friend stated in a text that she was “pressed for time and energy and needed to protect her bandwidth.”

With this example, and others, Davis surmised that therapy concepts developed for healing are being used in harmful ways.1

I agree.

We can, of course, offer a few examples of why bandwidth and boundaries might be appropriate at times. Yes, I have been so overwhelmed by expectations I cried in secret… well the Lord knew about my tears for I was pouring my heart out to Him. And sometimes people want you to do things for them they can and should do for themselves.

But the examples in Scripture are more about embracing others than shoving people away or about being poured out than holding back.

Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.” John 13:34

How did Jesus love during His ministry?

In the book of Luke we read, “Now when the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him, and he laid his hands on every one of them and healed them. (Luke 4:40)

When the crowds learned Jesus and His disciples were in Bethsaida “they followed Him, and He welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing.” (Luke 9:11) And when the day began to wear away, He did not follow the advice of his disciples and send the crowds to villages for food and lodging, instead He fed them.

With boundaries we make rules that can’t be broken. We don’t take phone calls after a certain hour of night or we just say “no” rather than make time to give someone a ride to a doctor’s appointment.

When does life stretch forward in endless hours? My husband is the pastor of a small rural church and there are always a multitude of ministries. Also, I write blogs, mini-blogs, articles, and essays. Currently, I am working on a book. My mother is in her 90s and I routinely make a four-hour drive to her house to help with her care. I am always behind on household projects because houses require a great deal of upkeep and so does the church building.

Frequently I am pressed for time and energy but I choose to stay connected and involved. Bandwidth is “the energy or mental capacity required to deal with a situation.”2 I may not have the capacity but I know who does… Jesus Christ.

John 15:7-8

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” ESV

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:

1-What is your opinion on bandwidth and boundaries? What Scripture has shaped this opinion? Looking forward to new insight!


1-Plough Publishing House, Article “Bandwidth and Boundaries: Therapy-speak is Infecting our Relationships and Undermining our Values, by Alexandra Macey Davis.

2-Definition of bandwidth from Yahoo search engine,

Is it Possible to be Overly Responsible?

I started crying this morning. A Fitbit brought me to tears. It quit working. I had noticed it last night but forgot to plug it in. When I glanced at it this morning, checking my steps while on the treadmill, the screen was black.

But that is not why I started crying. Tears erupted when I set the Fitbit down and couldn’t find it while trying to gather up a load of laundry for the washer. Frequently, I misplace things by trying to complete more than one task at a time. But there is always too much to do.

Now I am in the process of seeking counseling to determine the real cause of my meltdown.

The Holy Spirit is our counselor. I know it is currently popular to seek outside counsel and there is a place for this. But the Holy Spirit will uncover all that is embedded in our hearts. All that knocks us off course, keeps us from becoming the person God created us to be.

And so, as I chase honesty in the inward parts I find , as a responsible person, I am practicing gluttony in this area of responsibility, filling my plate too full.

It is the last week in July and the yard still needs work. The sails haven’t been hung over the deck and weeds still dominate the garden. Also, outdoor furniture, kept under tarps during the winter snowstorms, needs to be refreshed. Currently, I am stripping and sanding a pair of Adirondack chairs. A gallon of teal paint has been purchased for this project. Also, a can of Canyon Black spray paint for a metal café table and chairs and a can of Satin Terracotta for plastic chairs that have faded.

There are so many people on my list to invite to an outdoor dinner on the deck. Over the years I have purchased folded tables and chairs from Costco that store neatly in the garage. Also, table cloths and trays to carry coffee cups with creamer, or condiments, from the kitchen as well as other items to create a hospitable setting like those depicted in Magnolia Magazine.

If all I had on my plate were maintenance projects, I could complete them. But days are filled with tasks of daily living, creative writing, ministry, and interactions with family and friends as well.

Yet just as something small, not easily noticed can tip scales creating an imbalance, the behaviors we practice yet have not recognized can create havoc. The Holy Spirit can surprise us with these “not so obvious” stressors.

Recently, He brought to my attention a skewed attitude toward responsibility. It seems I feel responsible for the viability of magazines, writing websites, or nonprofits. Often when I hold a renewal to a publication in my hands my thought isn’t so much about their benefit, but what will happen if I don’t subscribe. I don’t want to be responsible for their demise. Often these magazines pile up unread or writing materials on membership websites are never accessed. Instead of being helpful it is another item on a long “to do” list… read magazines, watch teachings, and implement best practice.

A responsibility is “having an obligation to do something.” An obligation is “a duty or commitment.” ( Basically, it is something we must do. It is what prompts the words “I have to.”

We do have obligations. But I see how easy it is to overload. Grab hold of responsibilities that do not even exist. At this point I am a seeker, exploring the realm of responsibility.

I will continue to explore!

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s talk:

1-How have you made your life less stressful? Is this the direction of the Holy Spirit? What Scriptures has He provided that points back to Him?

To Keep Joy in Service, Remember Why You Serve

Saturday as I searched Websites looking for a Sunday School craft on the six days of creation, I became exasperated by the difficulty of the task. I would find something suitable only to discover there was a cost for a download or simply not be able to uncover the secret to accessing the craft.

However, I persevered. And during this time of searching, I began to contemplate attitudes. I was doing something good, discipling children, but I wasn’t completing the task of preparing my lesson with joy.

It occurred to me that my emotions would not swing so radically if I were always to consider that at a time no one knows (Matthew 24:36) Christ will return for His bride, the church, with a trumpet call and a shout (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

Why was I searching for something that the kids would want to keep, something that would teach them about God? Because I want my kids to know the true and living God. To increase their knowledge until they begin to grasp His greatness and cling to Him realizing He is everything they need. That Sunday, I wanted them to know He existed in the beginning of the creation of the world. Also, that what He created was good.

What a pleasure it is to serve my Lord and Savior, to be His hands and feet. So why let Satan steal my joy?

Service can become drudgery or a burden if we approach it from the wrong perspective, thinking we are giving up something such as time that could be better spent. Aren’t we making an investment?

When we serve in ways that provide opportunity to explain the gospel or make disciples we are investing in the kingdom of God. We are fulfilling what is often referred to as the great commission.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:19-20 ESV

To make a disciple we must know what it is. In the “Compact Dictionary of Doctrinal Words” it is defined as a learner or follower of Jesus Christ. Author Terry L. Miethe writes: “In the Bible the word “disciple” implies a personal adherence, a living out of, the teachings of the Master Teacher. In the New Testament one is known as Jesus’ disciple by abiding in His Word (John 8:31; 13:35; 15:8). In Acts, those who have believed upon Him and confessed Him are called disciples (6:1-2, 7; 14:20-22, 28; 15:10, 19:1).

Also, serving gives us the opportunity to reflect our heavenly Father to a world that does not know the characteristics and attributes of the true and living God. We can reveal to the world what His agape love, grace, mercy, compassion, and sustenance look like. This reveals His glory or the beauty of God’s Spirit, the essence of who He is.1 Our good works bring God glory.

“…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 ESV

When we serve, we store up treasures in heaven. We are investing in something that lasts for eternity. Service keeps us heavenly minded. We think of God.

“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-20 ESV

I want to not only approach service with joy but keep it no matter the glitches. To be aware of my attitude and grab hold of joy if I feel it being tugged away by situations that exasperate.

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:  

1-When you serve, how does Satan steal your joy?

2-How do you keep the attitude of joy in all your areas of service?

Resources: “What is the glory of God?”

Should You Take a Sabbath?

     Sitting at my desk writing a blog this afternoon is the first time I have ceased from frenetic activity in several days.

I spent the last days of June at my mother’s house helping while her caregiver was off.

     She is up by 8:30a.m. so I read my Bible early and try to leave the house by 6:30a.m. to walk a couple miles on abandoned railroad tracks. When I was a child, a train used the rails twice a day so we had to listen for the rumble of an engine if we walked this route, but no longer. Now it is the roadways that are unsafe, for the cattle ranches were sold and subdivided increasing the population.

     I returned home just in time for the Fourth of July festivities beginning with the Paul Bunyan Mountain and Blues Festival in our small town. Tomorrow morning, I will post this blog before driving to a neighboring town for a parade [or when I get home].

     The fact my writing is a respite may seem odd, realistically it should be listed as work but I am not racing around from one chore or activity to the next.

     I contemplate this word “respite,” a temporary period of relief. At my desk writing, time dissipates like morning mist and I am engrossed in this creative endeavor. But it is not shabat. “To sabbath is to cease activity for the purpose of remembering God’s provision, that we might worship him as we ought,” writes Jen Wilkin in a chapter titled “The Fourth Word, Unhindered Rest” in her book “Ten Words to Live By.”

     She explains further… “More than the deliberate cessation of work for the purpose of decompressing, Sabbath is the deliberate cessation of any activity that might reinforce my belief in my own self-sufficiency. In contrast to cultural ideas of rest marked by self-care, Sabbath rest is marked by self-denial. It requires that we deny ourselves the material gain or sense of accomplishment a day of labor brings.”

     Yes, I can find rest in my writing, but that is not true rest. True rest is found in complete reliance on my Lord and Savior. David wrote about this rest in Psalm 23 describing how the Lord restored his soul. When I seek rest through writing, I attempt my own restorative measures. To shabat, I would need to “cease” writing and allow my refreshing to come from the Lord.

     The chapter on unhindered rest in Wilkin’s book has prompted much research about the Sabbath on my end. points out that Jesus is our Sabbath rest. We no longer labor to make ourselves acceptable to God by obeying the Law. In Jesus, we are made holy and righteous. This rest is discussed in Hebrews chapter 4 of the Bible.

     But I see I do labor for other things that God provides. Sometimes I refuse a break from work because I am striving to achieve security, safety, comfort… I am creating and sustaining a lifestyle of my choosing.

     There is debate on whether those who are in Christ should take a Sabbath and what this rest should be. points to Colossians 2:16-17 and Romans 14:5 as proof that “Sabbath-keeping is a matter of spiritual freedom, not a command from God.”

     As I look at reasons I don’t cease from work, I am becoming more convinced that perhaps a Sabbath would be good for my soul. How about you?

Let’s Talk:

1-If you have become convinced in your mind either to take a Sabbath or not take one what prompted your choice?

2-How do you take a Sabbath?

Accept God’s Direction for Better…

     A few nights ago, God talked to me while I slept, emphasizing the need to acknowledge Him in all my ways.

     I awoke with Proverbs 3:5-6 repeating in my mind like a stuck record.

     “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.

     In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” ESV

     That day and beyond my attention was on my ways… what might I be doing better if I filtered them through God’s perspective?

     –Better interactions with others.

     Because the spoken word is an important part of communication, I quickly noticed my speech could become a source for friction.

     When another person’s words, or even their tone in a conversation, sounds challenging I tend to meet them at my point of perception. Soon my tone and/or words become aggressive leading to controversaries.

     *God’s direction: A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. Proverbs 15:1

     Also, I tend to say things meant as a joke, or so I thought until my husband labeled my quips as sarcasm. When I looked the word up to get a clearer definition, I found it is “using irony to point out the deficiencies or failings of someone or something” (

     *God’s direction: Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing. Proverbs 12:18

     –Better use of time.

     Although I am sure it is possible to have too much time, I have never found time to be a surplus. Therefore, it is difficult for me to let go of my plans. If I were in the shoes of the Good Samaritan, I cannot say I would have done as much to minister to the man injured by thieves lying at the side of the road.

Most think of generosity in terms of money, but we can be tight fisted with other things such as time. And God is showing me that guarding my time may not result in getting more done. If I am generous with my time, I just may have more of it. It’s a paradox, so common with God, and therefore amazing.

The following verse refers to money, but if looked at from the point of generosity it could also apply to time!

     *God’s direction: Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each of you should give what you have decided in your heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. 2 Corinthians 9:6-8

     Also, I need direction on when to drop what I am doing and respond to a request or need and when to continue with the task at hand.

     *God’s direction: If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.

     These examples are only the beginning of what God is doing as He reveals a behavior that does not please Him and gives Scripture for correction and direction.

We need the Holy Spirit’s conviction otherwise we remain unaware. I was not acknowledging God’s ways when it came to sarcasm because I was unaware of the damaging effect it could have on people.

Let’s be conscious of our ways and let God’s light reveal any darkness in them.

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Let’s Talk:

1-What behavior is God currently working on in your life? Has He given direction as you hold the behavior up to the light of Scripture?

2-If God has ever spoken to you while you slept, please share the message in the comment section!

Transformation by Trial

     As I read a blogger’s lament about her inability to see how God is working for her good amid a difficult situation, I wonder why she has failed to read the next sentence beneath Romans 8:28 in the passage from which she quotes.

     Romans 8:28-29

“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.” ESV

     The good God is referring to is to hone us into the image of Jesus Christ. While circumstances may not feel good, trials and tribulations are like a chisel chipping marble into a beautiful work of art. They cut away all that does not glorify God and as a result we become more Christ-like.

     In his commentary on the book of Romans, “Be Right,” author Warren W. Wiersbe writes: “The believer never need faint in times of suffering and trial because he knows that God is at work in the world (Rom. 8:28), and that He has a perfect plan (Rom. 8:19). God has two purposes in that plan: our good and His glory. Ultimately, He will make us like Jesus Christ. Best of all, God’s plan is going to succeed.”

     I contemplate the notion that trials and tribulations work for my good. The word “good” in koine Greek is agathon, something useful and profitable, beneficial.

     If I never have an adversary, someone who slanders or perhaps takes advantage, how will I learn to do good no matter how I am treated or to be kind to the ungrateful and the evil? (Luke 6:35)

     If I never experience a financial setback, how can I learn contentment? To live content is to be satisfied with the food on my table and clothes in my closet. As the apostle Paul wrote to Timothy, “Godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing with these we will be content.” (1 Timothy 6:6-8)  

     If I am never put in a place where forgiveness is difficult or tempted to consider myself better than another person, how can I learn to judge not? (Luke 6:37)

     We can read our Bibles daily or memorize verses from each book, but unless we have the opportunity to practice them, we won’t know if we can walk it out.

Be transformed by the renewing of your mind, we are told in Romans 12:2. And we truly do begin to think differently, approach situations with a Christ-like attitude when we live in the presence of God. However, just as we take tests in school to see if we have truly learned what was taught, we need to be tested to see if our head knowledge became heart knowledge.

This fallen world is filled with tribulation. We all have times when we struggle. But these adverse situations give God a chance to work His magic.

Let’s Talk:

1-What transformation has taken place during times of tribulation that has made you more Christ-like? Please share in the comment section!

©2023 Susan Cort Johnson *All Rights Reserved

Image by Siegella from Pixabay

Christians are Called to be Action Oriented

     This week I posted a short piece on Instagram and Facebook titled “Becoming Part of the Solution.”

     I had taken a photo of a couple refrigerators out in the woods where I walk and wrote that my first reaction to such dumping is anger. But on this day, I had another thought. “How can I be part of the solution?”

     About 10 minutes after I posted the piece, I got a call from my nephew. He had been dirt bike riding in the hills behind his house, which is high desert sage brush, and came across discarded appliances, tires, and other garbage. He made a quick call to the local landfill to negotiate an affordable dump fee, and after soliciting the help of a friend began the site cleanup. Four loads later, the all-terrain vehicle (ATV) trails were clear.

     That is a good deed.

     A few weeks ago, I learned of another person who is trying to reduce the feral cat population in my town by transporting these animals to a clinic in Reno where a vet offers to spay and neuter them for $25 on a certain day of the week. I was impressed by her willingness to take action rather than simply talk about a problem.

     Neither of these people profess Christ, but what they do is certainly sacrificial. They gave of their time and money. I was told the “cat lady” leaves town at 4 a.m. each Tuesday morning to take the felines to the vet in Reno, a two-hour trip.

     So, I ask as followers of Jesus Christ shouldn’t we be ready to take part in problem solving when there is a problem? Yet I often hear Christians opt out. They say they aren’t “called” to it.

     James tells us that we should put our faith into action. This is how Eugene Peterson, author of the commentary Bible titled “The Message,” words James 2:19-24.

     “Do I hear you professing to believe in the one and only God, but then observe you complacently sitting back as if you had done something wonderful? That’s just great. Demons do that, but what good does it do them? Use your heads! Do you suppose for a minute that you can cut faith and works in two and not end up with a corpse on your hands?

Wasn’t our ancestor Abraham “made right with God by works” when he placed his son Isaac on the sacrificial altar? Isn’t it obvious that faith and works are yoked partners, that faith expresses itself in works? That the works are “works of faith”?  The full meaning of “believe” in the Scripture sentence, “Abraham believed God and was set right with God,” includes his action. It’s that mesh of believing and acting that got Abraham named “God’s friend.” Is it not evident that a person is made right with God not by a barren faith but by faith fruitful in works?”

There are lots of needs in society today. We read about them in newspapers or news websites or hear about them on television. Often the best we can do to be part of the solution is pray. At other times, however, we are like the Good Samaritan who came across the man who had been robbed and beaten giving us opportunity to act. At those times we can choose to be used by God to be part of the solution.

[NOTE: The Bible tells us to do good works but this is not for our salvation from eternal destruction (Matthew 25:46, Revelation 20:15) due to the sins we have committed (Romans 6:23). Salvation is a free gift from God, we don’t “work” for it.

How are we saved? The following information is from Got Questions (

How did God provide salvation?

Because the just penalty for sin is infinite and eternal, only God could pay the penalty, because only He is infinite and eternal. But God, in His divine nature, could not die. So God became a human being in the person of Jesus Christ. God took on human flesh, lived among us, and taught us.

When the people rejected Him and His message, and sought to kill Him, He willingly sacrificed Himself for us, allowing Himself to be crucified (John 10:15). Because Jesus Christ was human, He could die; and because Jesus Christ was God, His death had an eternal and infinite value.

Jesus’ death on the cross was the perfect and complete payment for our sin (1 John 2:2). He took the consequences we deserved. Jesus’ resurrection from the dead demonstrated that His death was indeed the perfectly sufficient sacrifice for sin.

How can I be saved? What do I need to do?

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). God has already done all the work. All you must do is receive, in faith, the salvation God offers (Ephesians 2:8-9). Fully trust in Jesus alone as the payment for your sins. Believe in Him, and you will not perish (John 3:16). God is offering you salvation as a gift. All you have to do is accept it. Jesus is the way of salvation (John 14:6).

Sculpting Takes Time but the Work of Art Emerges

     I long to cut away every character flaw that is not of God until I am the person He created me to be, a reflection of His Son. But I know it is a work of the Spirit, and takes time. It’s the chiseling process, similar to a sculptor with a chunk of marble creating a work of art.

     Renaissance artist Michelangelo worked on his sculpture of David from 1501-1504.

     The word of God is the chisel.

     “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Hebrews 4:12 ESV

     As I write today, the Holy Spirit is chiseling at my tendency to become frustrated, an expression of distress and annoyance that is triggered when plans are foiled and all my efforts have no impact. According to people are especially vulnerable to frustration when they lack the ability to change or achieve something. This description is very fitting, for frustration does kick in when I struggle to change or achieve an outcome.

     Recently, I tried to join a scheduled Zoom meeting but had difficulty getting in because the web address in the email message wasn’t set up to allow automatic access. When I pasted it into the location bar, it didn’t work. I typed the problem into the Zoom chat and followed their instructions, but wasn’t successful. Finally, I was told to try a different browser which solved the problem, but I joined the meeting about 20 minutes late.

     Did this experience activate that feeling of frustration? Yes! My thoughts toward the person who had organized the meeting were less than kind.

     The Holy Spirit began the chiseling process with a question posed in a Bible study I am doing with other women in my church. Which command is burdensome, or difficult, I was asked. Immediately, the Spirit reminded me of “the way of love” described in 1 Corinthians chapter 13. There are only two words which describe what love is… patient and kind.

     The Spirit’s message to me was simple, “love is patient and kind” (1 Cor. 13:4a) The agitation that results from frustration is neither patient nor kind.

     In the space allowed for the answer I wrote: “If I am easily frustrated, I am not patient. Therefore, I am not acting in a loving manner.”

     There was a second part to the question—“What does this reveal about your understanding of the loving fatherhood of God?”

     I realized that my loving Father does not get frustrated with me, but patiently teaches. If I am to reflect my heavenly Father to others, I will show patience.

     Does this knowledge instantaneously correct my behavior? Most likely not. But now that I am aware of my behavior, I can recognize situations that cause frustration and determine to exercise patience. It will need to be developed but we are told to practice righteousness in 1 John 3:7 and I know mastery comes with practice. I learned how to ride a bicycle by practicing. I learned how to type by practicing. I learned how to drive by practicing.

     And thus, I will learn patience with practice. Collecting all the Scriptures that teach this virtue, studying and memorizing them so the Holy Spirit can chisel away all that is not of God and hone me into Christ’s image.

Let’s Talk:

1-Is there something the Holy Spirit is chiseling at the moment? What is emerging?

2-Looking back over your walk with Christ, what characteristics of His have you developed that you didn’t have before you knew Him as Lord and Savior?