Tag Archives: fitly framed

Isaiah 65:1-12

Scripture: from verse 8

Do not destroy it, for a blessing is in it…

Observation: God is talking about His people, and how they have once again been choosing things He does not delight in, and how He will have to punish them accordingly.  But then He compares them to a cluster of (presumably wild) grapevines that turn out to have sweet juice, and how the vines are not destroyed because there is something useful inside.

I have plenty of failings, as does everyone, and sometimes I worry that I cannot trust God to use me because I will fail to understand what He is and isn’t saying to me.  God recently reminded me of the last story in I, Robot, by Isaac Asimov, in which the characters mention that the giant computers that run the futuristic world economy cannot be disobeyed, because they will note patterns of disobedience and adjust their suggestions accordingly.  God is much bigger than I am.  He knows my failings.  He has already planned for my weaknesses.

Application: Trust God to use you to be a blessing.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, I praise you because you are bigger than I am.  I praise you because you understand me even when I do not understand myself.  I praise you because you can take my human weaknesses and make something beautiful out of them.  Please use me to be a blessing.  Amen.

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Isaiah 60:1-10

Scripture: from verse 4

Lift up your eyes all around, and see;
    they all gather together, they come to you

Observation: I am not a go-getter.  I am not good at hustling up new leads, new opportunities, new people.  And sometimes (frequently) I worry that God wants me to come up with these things somehow.  I worry that if God is calling me to write this blog or paint a prophetic painting or give a teaching, then it is also my job to promote myself and find my venue and my audience on my own power.  Which is a scary thing to think, because I’m not capable of that – at least, not without investing tremendous amounts of time and emotional energy that would be better spent in writing or painting or teaching or whatever my actual calling is.

But God says that people will come to us.  That people will flow in, and bring their resources and their abilities to help.  That the things I cannot do will be done by someone else, who does not consider them worrisome or difficult.  While this is a logical plan, it’s easy enough to forget.

And all we have to do is lift up our eyes and see them.  It reminds me of the story of Elisha and the army of fire (2 Kings 6), when God had already sent a mighty army to protect Elisha, but He also had to open their eyes to see it.  God’s power already surrounds me.  I just can’t quite see it yet.

Application: Ask God what tasks you’ve been worrying about that aren’t yours in the first place.  And ask Him to open your eyes to see His power.

Prayer:  Yeshua, I thank you that you have redeemed me.  I thank you that you made me who I am and surrounded me with everything I need.  Help me to trust your provision for the things I think I lack.  Amen.

Isaiah 49:1-13

Scripture: from verse 6

I will make you as a light for the nations,
    that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth.

Observation:  Isaiah says that God has chosen him to show God’s glory.  He also says that he has worked in vain, and has accomplished nothing.  He has delivered nearly 50 chapters of prophecy to Israel, and seen no discernible result other than that nobody likes him.  He does say that God will reward him, but he’s clearly discouraged.

God, instead of responding by letting him take a break or not prophesy anymore, says that bringing back Israel is “too light a thing,” and Isaiah will now be a light for the nations.

I would guess that Isaiah was less than amused.

God does also promise that all peoples will worship Him, and that He will comfort His people and that all will be well.  But from Isaiah’s standpoint, I don’t know how comforting that was.  It must have looked (at least for a moment) like God was just giving him an even bigger task to fail at.

But Isaiah never failed at all.  He had spoken God’s words, and the result was God’s problem, not Isaiah’s.  The words God spoke through him still bless us today.

We’re not very good at knowing when we’ve failed and when we’ve succeeded.  The standards we use to measure ourselves (and each other) are badly flawed, and we are limited by our own brains and our own perspectives.  Sometimes we don’t even know what our goal should be.

But God knows.  God sees more than we can.  God knows where we’re going.  God knows what we’re good at.  So we have to trust Him more than we trust ourselves.  Because He’s the One who knows.

Application:  Trust His knowledge.  Don’t give up.

Prayer:  Lord, I praise you because you are the One Who Knows.  I praise you because you do not get confused or blinded or forgetful.  Thank you for charting my course for me.  Help me to lean on you and not give up.  Amen.

Leviticus 6:1-11

Note: it appears the CJB may be using a non-standard verse numbering.  Or, more likely, the traditional Jewish and Christian chapter divisions are different and it follows the Jewish one.  At any rate, I am consistently using the Complete Jewish Bible.

Scripture: from verse 9

It is to be eaten without leaven in a holy place — they are to eat it in the courtyard of the tent of meeting.

Observation: Grain offerings, which are a form of voluntary worship, were not entirely burned up.  A handful was burned, along with all the incense included, and the rest was eaten by the priests as part of God’s provision for them.  But the fact that God gave it to them did not mean they could do with it as they pleased.  They had to be holy when they ate it.

God has given Hero and me a ton of blessings, especially financial blessings.  But we are not free to do whatever we want with them.  We have to use them the way God tells us to.  It’s part of being His child.

Holy means different, other, even alien.  It means not normal, not natural.  God’s gifts aren’t meant to be used in the ways that seem normal and natural to us at first glance.  That means different things in different contexts, but it’s always wise to seek His guidance in how to use things.  So we do.

In reality, it’s probably just as well.  I recently read Happy Money, which explores what spending decisions make people happiest.  What was interesting was how counter-intuitive our happiness is.  People were rarely able to predict what decisions would make them happiest after the money was spent.

So when God tells us to use our blessings in ways that don’t make sense to us – when He pushes us to invest in others, to spend time doing things we wouldn’t have expected, to eat unleavened bread in the holy place – it’s probably because He loves us.  And He loves us too much to miss the opportunity of making us happy.

Application:  Pray before spending, whether spending time or money or energy or whatever else He has given you.  God has a plan, and His plan gives you a future and a hope.  Follow it.

Prayer: Father, thank you for guiding us.  Thank you for blessing us and teaching us to bless others.  Help me to follow you closely and trust you implicitly.  Help me to be other.  Amen.

Ephesians 6:1-5

Scripture: verse 1

Children, what you should do in union with the Lord is obey your parents, for this is right.

Observation:  Having spent half a chapter explaining how our new identity in Messiah should be reflected in marriage, Paul goes on to discuss how it changes other relationships, including parent-child and owner-slave.

When I was little, I was apparently fairly resistant to most of the normal forms of discipline, so my mom would sit me down and explain, quite rationally, that God had created communities to work a certain way for the benefit of everyone who participated and that children obeying their parents was part of how authority worked.  Apparently, it worked.

We are called to obey authority in unity with the Lord.  Our new identity – being one flesh with Messiah – does not take us out of community or out of normal human relationships.  Instead, unity with Messiah helps us to fit into community more strongly than ever.  We become a pillar of strength for the people around us, by doing our job and fulfilling our calling.

Being with God doesn’t mean ignoring humans.  It means taking people more seriously than ever, because they are also part of God’s body.

Application:  Obey authority.  Support the community.  Dedicate time and energy to pursuing relationships with others.  Enter your calling in unity with the Lord.

Prayer:  Father, thank you for calling me to be where I am.  Thank you for making me a wife and mother and daughter and sister and friend.  Help me to take those relationships seriously, and to reach out with love towards those who need it.  Amen.

Ephesians 5:16-20

Scripture: verse 17

So don’t be foolish, but try to understand what the will of the Lord is.

Observation: We can’t afford to be foolish – we have little enough time and energy as it is.  We can’t waste it feeding darkness and emptiness.

During the conference I was at recently, two verses kept coming to me.  The first was Hebrews 4, which is about the need to trust God’s grace and choose to enter His rest.  The other was Psalm 90:12, which says “Teach us to number our days, that we may become wise.”  I was struggling to connect them (on the assumption that God intended them to be connected) and I think this verse is the third part of that puzzle.

Our time and our energy and our abilities are limited.  Since they are limited, we have to use them efficiently, which means allowing God to determine how they are to be used.  And His will is that we trust His grace and allow Him to shape us and teach us to love Him and love others.  He is making us fitly framed for Him and for each other, creating something beautiful.

Application: Go with the flow – the God flow, anyway.  Serve God, love others, and rest.

Prayer: Teach me to number my days, Father.  Teach me to use what you have given me wisely, and to trust you to compensate for my failures.  Thank you that you have a plan for me, that I will not be wasted or overlooked.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:16-20

Scripture: verses 16 and 17

Under [Messiah’s] control, the whole body is being fitted and held together by the support of every joint, with each part working to fulfill its function; this is how the body grows and builds itself up in love.  Therefore…do not live any longer as the pagans live, with their sterile ways of thinking.

Observation:  We have a contrast here.  On the one hand is the body of believers, who are learning to work together and support each other and build something that is bigger than the sum of themselves.  On the other hand are the pagans, who use ways of thinking that don’t lend themselves to the building of community.  They don’t speak the truth in love (or at least, they don’t insist on it, as Messiah does), and they don’t submit to each other in love, and as a result their society is sterile – it produces nothing.  Without grace, without the knowledge of God’s direction and training, we get nowhere.

Application:  Watch your thinking.  Are you seeking to love others, or to get your own way? Are you seeking the truth, or do you just want to be right?  God has a plan in mind – know that His plan is better than anything we could come up with.

Prayer:  Yeshua, teach me to be a part of your community.  Help me to support others and to accept the support of others.  Teach me to watch my thoughts and be gentle with others.  Help me see the goals you have instead of my own.  Amen.

Ephesians 4:6-10

Scripture: verse 6

[There is] one God, the Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is in all.

Observation:  I’ve been talking with my mom lately about a word she got some years ago: that God works recursively, like sourdough starter.  Sourdough is traditionally made with wild yeasts, encouraged to grow in the dough over time, so every time you make sourdough you’re supposed to keep a lump of the dough in the fridge, to be “fed” and used to leaven the next loaf.  (I’ve never actually done this, to be honest, but I’d like to someday.)

Some people adapt this process to make “Friendship Bread.”  The starter is built up over the course of a few weeks, and then it is split – some goes back in the fridge, some is used to make bread, and some is packed up (with instructions and hopefully a loaf of freshly-baked bread) and given to a friend.  If people keep giving it to others, the number of people who have the starter grows exponentially and soon everyone is making bread.

And so we have this picture of God.  He is ruling everything, Master of Creation, counting hairs and watching sparrows and determining the fall of the dice.  He is also in me, using me and growing me and generally investing tons of time and energy into me.  He is also, at the very same time, in my husband and my daughter and every other believer on the planet.  And the amazing thing is, He is wholly Himself in each of us.  He isn’t split up or distracted or even juggling a million tasks at once.  He is, Himself, wholly present and focused on me.  And you.  And creation.

God is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Like the starter, He is Himself in every single one of us.  And like the starter, He is changing each of us to be more like Himself.

Application: Trust Him and let Him do His work 🙂

Prayer:  Father, thank you for being in me.  Thank you for devoting all of your attention to me.  I praise you that you are the same and your love never changes, regardless of scale or situation or circumstances.  I love you.  Amen.

Ephesians 2:21-22

Scripture: verse 21

In union with Him the whole building is held together, and it is growing into a holy temple in union with the Lord.

Observation: I mostly liked this one because of the whimsical growing building imagery – like the scene in The Magicians’s Nephew when they plant a toffee and it grows into a toffee-tree overnight.

The point is, Yeshua holds us together, and we (the body of believers) are growing and maturing into what God wants us to be.

Young’s Literal Translation uses “fitly framed together” in place of “union.”  We are carefully shaped and maneuvered into place, to make a structure that is strong and flexible and keeps out the rain.  And we are growing.  Some of our quirks God uses, some He changes, but our destination is right where He wants us to be.

Application: Don’t trash-talk yourself.  Don’t assume God needs to change you, that He doesn’t like who you are or that you won’t fit.  It takes time, but He has a place for everyone and He’s putting everyone in their place.

Prayer: Father, thank you for using me as I am.  Help me to trust you to make it happen.  Amen.