It’s been said that after a husband and wife have been married for a long time, they start to look like each other. Maybe it’s especially so, if they’re best friends, as it’s also been said that best friends’ faces start to look alike! According to Psychology Today, “Over time, there is the possibility that friends’ faces become more alike because of using similar facial expressions; lots of frowning or laughing or looks of disgust may actually lead to changes in facial patterns.”1
“Do not conform yourselves to the standards of this world, but let God transform you inwardly by a complete change of your mind. Then you will be able to know the will of God–what is good and is pleasing to Him and is perfect.”Romans 12:2 GNT
This verse may be really familiar to you, if you’ve been absorbing the truths of Scripture for any length of time. It presents us with a choice, which we can use to assess where our minds are…and, therefore, our actions. We can either conform ourselves, or we can let ourselves be transformed by God. In essence, it starts with whether or not we want control. If we do, then we haven’t let God transform our minds and are already conforming ourselves to the standard of this world; this is evident by our initial decision for control. Whoever is taking control shifts or alters our thoughts and behavior.
The Greek word, in this verse, for “conform” is suschématizó (soos-khay-mat-id’-zo). It’s made up of two words: sýn, meaning “identified with,” and sxēmatizō, “having outward shape.” Together, they mean that you’ll be identified with whatever form you exhibit on the outside. We all know that what we think and value is evident on the outside by how we talk, what we talk about, what we wear, and how we conduct ourselves. If we value and strive after things that others, living in this cycle of time, who don’t faithfully follow after God, value and strive for, we will be identified with them, whether or not we say we’re different. Our words may say we’re different, but our behavior will look like we agree with them in their pursuits.
The other option, is to let Adonai-Yahweh (Lord LORD/Sovereign LORD), be Who He is: master and sovereign ruler (this refers to all three persons of the God-head, since “Adonai” is plural), GOD of gods (Yahweh). As author Stephen Neilsen put it, Adonai-Yahweh’s name could be translated as, “Our Lord [master]…is GOD…,” which would mean that He rightly holds the position of authority (sovereignty) over our lives.
If we believe Him to be our master, sovereign ruler, GOD of gods, we can choose to “let [Him] transform us inwardly by a complete change of our minds.” The Greek word, here, for “transform” is metamorphoó (met-am-or-fo’-o). The two words used to make up this compound verb are metá and morphóō; metá means “change after being with” and morphóō means “changing form in keeping with inner reality.” I love the word metá!! This so goes along with the truths we have been digging into in previous posts about the fruits of the Spirit…That it’s the Spirit of God Who produces these outward results in our lives, because of what He has done inside us, in the deepest part of us. Our outward, visible form takes on qualities of God, which He is and has been cultivating, invisibly, within us; and it’s all because…we have been with God…Whew! Does that give anyone else chills and cause you to praise?!?
So, where are you today?
Feel free to share a comment on this post. Your story or how GOD is speaking to you about this may resonate with another Liv life and encourage them to be transformed by GOD.
1 Gibson, Brittany. “The Real Reason You and Your Friends Look So Much Alike.” Reader’s Digest. 8 May, 2019, https://www.rd.com/article/why-you-and-your-friends-look-alike/.
2 Nielsen, Stephen. “Hebrew Names of God: Adonai.” Prayer A to Z. 8 January, 2012, https://studyingprayer.com/2012/01/08/hebrew-names-of-god-adonai/.
I love this sweatshirt of my daughter’s! It’s amazing how many compliments she’s received when wearing it! You can see people read it, then re-read it! Their heads kind of tilt to the side, like a dog, when he’s trying to figure out what’s going on. The words make you think, especially since so much communication these days seems to be motivated by self!
We’re Chicago Cubs fans and were watching a game recently. Anthony Rizzo, our four-time Gold Glove award winning, starting first baseman, was “hauling it” toward the rolled-up tarp out of the field of play, attempting to catch a foul ball. He’s done it numerous times and has even jumped up ON the rolled-up infield tarp as well as on a ledge in front of the fans to successfully catch multiple foul balls, so we held our breath while he ran all out! This particular time, the Cubs were on the road, and his efforts wouldn’t become a highlight reel; he, unfortunately, didn’t get to the ball in time. We still applauded his efforts and replayed his past accomplishments in our minds. That’s when I heard one of the opposing team’s fans yell, “A [insert the other team’s name] would’ve caught that!” Really?!? Some things just ought not be said! I don’t care who I’m watching! If someone displays great effort, give them credit! Why do people love to hate on people, verbally?!?
Kindness is not just something we act out physically! It’s verbal, too! Yet, even in kindness, we seem to want something out of it. Maybe we’re kind, so we can be noticed, have a good reputation, get a good tip, or even receive recognition. Is kindness about the one we’re being kind to at all, or has it become more about us, in our minds?
In Galatians 5:22, which we’ve dug into a bit here and there this month, we find that one of the results of the Spirit’s work or activity inside of us is kindness. What I love about this is that the Greek word, here, for “kindness” means “(‘useful kindness’) [and] refers to meeting real needs, in God’s way, in His timing. [It’s] Spirit-produced goodness which meets the need and avoids human harshness (cruelty).”1 This kindness can only be Spirit-produced, as God is the One Who fully knows what’s going on in others’ lives, hearts, and minds as well as what they really need right then! Kindness is part of His character and what He displayed to us through Christ (Ephesians 2:7), so it makes sense that it can only be produced by His Spirit! Our tendency, apart from Him, is to think about ourselves and how we can benefit from a kind act, which depletes the act of real service (meeting the real needs of others)!
“Or do you despise the riches of His kindness, restraint, and patience, not recognizing that God’s kindness is intended to lead you to repentance?”Romans 2:4 HCSB
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it, again: Our God is purposeful! While I know this, it doesn’t stop me from being in awe of Him when I read this verse! The Greek word for “despise” is kataphronéō; it means that we “thought down” on God by willfully disobeying Him and/or openly disrespecting Him. In fact, the second part of the word, “phronéō,” is, technically, our heart/our thoughts regulating (or controlling) us from within, which, then, translates to how we act. Our outward disobedience or disrespect of Him, going against His character and purpose for us, boils down to our thinking our way is best…elevating our will above His (i.e., paying no regard to Who He is or what He says)…and desiring control of our lives. His character, the very essence of Who He is, is what He demonstrates to us through His Son, Jesus, with the purpose of leading us to Himself! He also leads us with the intension of changing our minds, which is what “repentance” means here, to allowing His Spirit to regulate (or control) us from within.
Kindness, by definition, here, is meant to be useful, to fulfill its purpose! God first showed us kindness by restraining His wrath and being patient with us; His purpose in this was to lead us to change our thoughts from disobedience to obedience, from disrespect to respect, from our way to His. Once our minds change to resemble Christ more, then the Spirit of God works His kindness out in how we act, so others can develop a different opinion about Him, as well, and repent! Kindness isn’t the only thing that has purpose! So do we!
1HELPS Word-studies. “5544. chréstotés.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/5544.htm (accessed May 26, 2021).
Can you believe it’s been six months since God gave the instruction and permission to launch this website?!? He’s revealed much to me during this time, and I’ve loved sharing it with you, post by post! As I wrote in my very first post, my prayer is that, through my life and this site, as I have dedicated both to Him, you will be brought to Jesus, and the river of life will flow out of your heart in a powerful way! Maybe Liv has been a blessing to you, and God has used it to do just that…bring you closer to Him and make beautiful changes in your life to look more and more like Him. Maybe it hasn’t been what you were hoping for or needing. Or maybe you just don’t have time to read one more thing; your plate is already full!
This brings me to today. The LORD has directed me to take this time to check in with you all and see what’s going well…and what isn’t. We’ve compiled a survey to help me serve you (and, therefore, Him) better. As always, the LORD will continue to drive us on this venture; He has chosen this medium to hear your voice in order to fine-tune some things to better meet you where you’re at.
Your feedback is super important, so please take a few minutes to honestly answer the questions in the survey below. They’re anonymous, so I hope that helps you feel more comfortable in sharing how you really feel and what God is laying on your heart. You only have to take the survey once; there’s no need to come back every day and lobby for your vote! : ) Let’s get started!
Do you remember the post-deer-accident picture of my little Geo Prizm, shown in the “Wonder–An Additional Offering” post? Well, following that collision, my little car was, thankfully, repaired! One rainy Good Friday, several years later, I was driving that same car home, on my lunch hour, to take our dog for a walk. I was heading over and down a hill, toward a green light, at the bottom of the descent. A vehicle, approaching from the opposite direction, was in their left turn lane, watching me to see if they could make their turn safely. They, obviously, felt they had enough time, accelerated, and made their left turn, crossing my lane in front of me. An SUV, which was right behind that vehicle, decided that, if the first vehicle made it, they could, too. They didn’t leave time to assess my speed, the rainy weather, the time it would take them to turn safely, or make any other responsible judgment call (bulging eye and rolling eye emojis, please!!); they just gunned it, right as I was approaching the intersection! They barreled into the left front of my little car, bringing me to an abrupt stop, and rendering my car undriveable…they totaled it (I don’t have pictures of that one…)!!
Force, the strength applied to movement, is necessary to decelerate a moving object. I believe God has made purposeful connections between physical things and spiritual ideas, and physics is no exception. I’m not a Science person, but God led me to this. Stick with me for a minute; there IS a purpose to what may seem like a boring rabbit trail!
The faster an object is moving, the more force will be necessary to slow it down; a large object, like a car (even a small one), will require increased force to decrease it’s speed or bring it to a stop. If you have a long time to slow down, a little force will be needed. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the luxury of time, when that SUV pulled out in front of me, which proved that a large force, applied over a shorter time, changes the momentum (or impulse) of an object!
An example of a nearly elastic collision is a ball, getting hit with an object (like a bat or someone’s foot); when it’s hit, the bat or foot remains separate from the ball. Some kinetic energy, which relates to movement, is lost, in this kind of collision, to heat or sound.
A perfectly inelastic collision is when two objects, like two vehicles, collide and remain together as one physical body. In this type of collision, total momentum is protected from being destroyed, but total kinetic energy isn’t. Kinetic energy may change into the sound you hear, when the two vehicles collide; heat energy; or internal energy (like, damage to the vehicle!).
Have you ever been cruising along, having an amazing day, when someone says something negative about you (or you perceive it that way, anyway), does something mean to you, or just doesn’t consider you at all? Yup! Collision! Depending on the level of the offense (“force”), it can slow you down, change your momentum (or impulse), or bring your world to a stop.
What kind of “collision” have you experienced this week? Was it like a nearly elastic collision, where some of your movement (displayed in your life as joy, service, encouragement,…) is lost, yet it continues right on moving? Or is it like a perfectly inelastic collision, where you and your “collision” are now one (you’re still moving right along, but in a different direction…and internally damaged)?
There’s a different type of inelastic collision (or “force”) that remains together in a positive way after the impact; that’s the relationship with your Savior through the power of the Holy Spirit. When you and Christ come together, the impact of the Holy Spirit’s power can protect your momentum from being destroyed, change the sound others hear, heat up the passions He wants to ignite in you, and heal the internal damage created from outside forces, using them for good in His Kingdom.
“Those who live as their human nature tells them to, have their minds controlled by what human nature wants. Those who live as the Spirit tells them to, have their minds controlled by what the Spirit wants.”Romans 8:5 GNT
“16 But I say, walk habitually in the [Holy] Spirit [seek Him and be responsive to His guidance], and then you will certainly not carry out the desire of the sinful nature [which responds impulsively, without regard for God and His precepts]. 17 For the sinful nature has its desire, which is opposed to the Spirit, and the [desire of the] Spirit opposes the sinful nature; for these [two, the sinful nature and the Spirit] are in direct opposition to each other [continually in conflict], so that you [as believers] do not [always] do whatever [good things] you want to do.”Galatians 5:16-17 AB
Let’s not let damaging collisions with other humans decrease our momentum for the Kingdom! Let our impulses continue to move by the strength of the Spirit of God, in the direction He wants us to go, even when hurtful things collide with us so unexpectedly. The strength of God’s Spirit is greater than the strength of humans! Think on these Scriptures; let’s make the decision to focus our minds on the truths He is teaching us in the Word of God and move (walk) with Him! Sound easy? Not likely,…but He isn’t called the Helper in Scripture for nothing!
Praying for you, Liv Bouquet!
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love, does not know God, because God is love.“1 John 4:7-8 ESV
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, where you’ve shared openly or answered a question fully, yet the one “listening” only hears part of what you said and assumes the rest?!? That happens a decent amount to me, and it’s SO frustrating!! I wonder if God feels similarly, when people take nuggets from the Bible and use them for their purposes/agendas, hearing only what they want to, and not understanding Who He is or what He meant.
In the previous two posts, the LORD directed me to write about the fruits of the Spirit; these attributes of God are produced in and through us only when we’re joined together with Jesus, through the Spirit of God. The first fruit listed in Galatians 5:22 is “love.” I don’t know about you, but I’ve heard many cite “‘God is love,’ so we should…[fill in the blank with any unaccountable response to something immoral in God’s eyes].” The LORD is clear, in His Word: He IS love, but there ARE things He hates, because they just don’t align with His holiness. In fact, the kind of love, referred to in Verse 22, is what God prefers, morally; it’s not a response we design. This means hating the sins He hates and handling situations in a way He says to.
To find out what He prefers, let’s take a look at some things He doesn’t...
12“A worthless person, a wicked man, is the one who walks with a perverse mouth,
13who winks maliciously with his eye, signals with his feet, and motions with his fingers,
14in whose heart is perverseness, who devises evil continually, who always sows discord.
15Therefore, calamity will come upon him suddenly; in a moment, he will be broken beyond healing.
16There are six things that the LORD hates; seven that are an abomination to Him:
17A proud look [the attitude that makes one overestimate oneself and discount others], a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18a heart that plots wicked schemes, feet eager to run to evil,
19a false witness snorting lies, and someone sowing quarrels between brothers.“Proverbs 6:12 NASB 1995; 6:13 NIV; 6:14 NHEB; 6:15-16 ESV, 6:17 AB, 6:18 CSB, 6:19 ISV
The things, listed in Verses 12-15, must’ve been important enough to reiterate them in Verses 16-19; they exhibit a lack of moral principles, opposite of God’s character, and the LORD hates them! In fact, we, as His people, should also hate them!
“The fear of the LORD is hatred of evil. Pride and arrogance and the way of evil and a perverted mouth, I hate.”Proverbs 8:13 ESV
“O, you, who love the Lord, hate evil!”Psalm 97:10a ESV
If you’re confused by Proverbs 6:16 and wonder why Solomon says “six,” but then “seven,” you’re not alone! It seems he should know the number before writing it down, doesn’t it?! Which one is it? Six or seven? Check this out:
“This passage uses a pattern common to books like Proverbs, giving a number for a list and then adding one more (Job 5:19; Proverbs 30:21). This is mostly a poetic flair, but sometimes highlights the last item as especially important. In this case, the last point is about those who create division, which is the common theme of the previous six ideas.”“What does Proverbs 6:16 Mean?” BibleRef.com, https://www.bibleref.com/Proverbs/6/Proverbs-6-16.html (accessed May 12, 2021).
Something else that may’ve made you wonder, as you read Proverbs 6:12-19, is why “winking” would’ve made this list. The core? Evil. Winking, in many situations and cultures, is disrespectful, a flirtatious advance (often unwelcomed), or it lets one person in on something (“Hey! Play along with this!”) while deceiving someone else. These things can cut deep at the core and cause trouble. (This isn’t referring to a playful wink between husband and wife or a reassuring wink between friends; that’s far from malicious and promotes unity, rather than discord.) Each situation and motive has to be examined at the wink’s core; if it’s meant to do damage, it’s an issue to God. Even motions made with the feet, how people walk, finger movements, etc., used to send signs to others relating to something deceitful or malicious (harmful), are included here and hated by God, as evil is at the heart of them.
Let’s look at another hated behavior…
“Balances of deceit [are] an abomination to YHWH, and a perfect weight [is] His delight.”Proverbs 11:1 LSV
“Balances” refers to scales used to weigh, measure, test, prove.1 I find it interesting that the Hebrew word used for scales, in the above verse, is referring to multiple scales and balances, not just one, and it’s root’s figurative meaning is between “two ears,” “to ponder.”2 That gives us something to ponder, doesn’t it?! We need to test our hearts and minds in order to prove if our motives and thoughts are deceitful or harmful to others in any way, or if they are true and morally right (choosing God’s preferred way), which delights Him. Let’s continually test what we think against all Scripture; It’s the perfect scale that can measure our motives and thoughts with multiple checks and balances, to weigh if we’re aligned with God’s preferences. Unity and justice, as we see throughout Scripture, are ultra important to God, and unity with Him is what brings us back to love:
“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love, does not know God, because God is love.“1 John 4:7-8 ESV
1Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, “239. azan,” BibleHub.com. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/239.htm (accessed May 12, 2021).
2Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, “3796. mozen,” BibleHub.com. https://biblehub.com/hebrew/3796.htm (accessed May 12, 2021).
If you do an internet search on “life source,” you may find everything from blood donation centers; to donations for organs, eyes, and tissues; to organic grocery stores; to water filtration systems. What do you think of when you hear “life source?” What is your source of life?
“But the fruit of the Spirit [the result of His presence within us] is love [unselfish concern for others], joy, [inner] peace, patience [not the ability to wait, but how we act while waiting], kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such things, there is no law.”Galatians 5:22-23 AB
Fruit…a picture of abundance…a sign of life; in fact, the sun is also a symbol of life. They go hand in hand. Did you know…
Fruit trees need full sun to really grow and flourish!?!
“‘The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].'”~Jesus, John 10:10 AB
Spiritually speaking, I think we could change the previous statement to:
In order to really grow and flourish, we need the Son (of God)…every bit of Him we can soak up!
He’s the only one through Whom we can really live…and be enabled to live life in abundance! I’m not talking about getting everything we want! I’m talking about flourishing, when it comes to the Spirit of God producing fruits of His character in and through us.
* The LORD wanted me to write about the fruits of the Spirit in the last post, as well. Check out the “Pruning Day” post for an everyday look at each piece of fruit.
From a spiritual perspective, “fruit,” which is spoken of in Galatians 5:22-23, refers to what’s done in partnership with Christ. We’re blessed with the Spirit of God, residing in us, as a seal, when we accept Jesus Christ as the sacrifice…the payment…for our sins. Think of Him like glue; He joins us together with Christ and the Father, so as to prevent us from coming apart from Him. Also, like a seal attached to an important document, He’s the symbol Who shows we’re God’s.
“‘I am the vine, and you are the branches. If you stay joined to Me, and I stay joined to you, then you will produce lots of fruit; but you cannot do anything without Me.'”~Jesus, John 15:5 CEV
In this verse, we see two life sources…1) the vine and 2) the branches. Yet, the branches can’t produce any fruit, if they’re cut off from the vine. In order to “produce lots of fruit” (through the Spirit), we have to be joined to Christ.
“[Then Jesus said,] ‘I am the True Vine, and My Father takes care of the vineyard. He removes every one of My branches that doesn’t produce fruit. He also prunes every branch that does produce fruit to make it produce more fruit.'”John 15:1-2 GWT
Here, Jesus says that He IS Truth…He’s REAL…He, Who is unseen, is connected to the “seen” (His being in us can’t be hidden!). God the Father is a worker, Who intends on accomplishing something. Any grape farmer who’s interested in growing a fertile plantation wants to grow as many good, quality grapes as he can. Likewise, the Father’s intention is to grow a lot of quality fruit! In order to do this, He looks at each branch (His follower) and sees if it’s producing fruit or not. If it IS, He prunes it to direct new, healthy growth, producing more fruit! Pruning, actually, means “cleansing,” here; He removes the sin, which is opposite of what He desires, getting rid of what is fruitless in us.
Check out what literal pruning does!
As you saw in the last post (and as you may know from experience), getting pruned isn’t a lot of fun, but the benefits, as you see above, include healthy, new growth and an abundant “crop,” through the Spirit; this allows us to accomplish much, as we promote the value of the One we belong to…of Who He truly is…to others! So long to not being productive or useful! Relish the protection of the Father, as we become more and more obedient to Him, following His ways. I don’t know about you, but I love having a source of life like this…One Whom I can count on for long-term spiritual health!
“My Father’s glory is shown by your bearing much fruit; and in this way, you become My disciples.”John 15:8 GWT
What’s the Father seeing, when He examines you? Are you producing a ton of fruit? Does He have the pruning sheers ready for you? Whatever season you’re in, I pray that you’ll see Him for Who He is, through His Son, Jesus, and the power of His Spirit…that He’ll enable you to live fully, abundantly for Him!
I went out of my way to help. I rearranged things in my day to be there, and God brought things to mind that may have been overlooked. It’s always more fun to offer to do things before you’re asked! Yet, in all of this, the response I received was less than desirable! The one I wanted to serve met me with ungratefulness, unkind words, a harsh tone, and a whole lot of self.
“You give glory to My Father when you produce a lot of fruit; in this way, you become My disciples.”John 15:8 GNT
The LORD has had this verse in front of me for a couple of weeks, now. He clearly wanted me to write about the fruits of the Spirit, yet He was also very clear about His timing. As the time for this post drew nearer, the above situation raised its beautiful, yet hideous, head. Yup. Satan wanted to blur the attraction of the Spirit’s fruit and show how I was mistreated…how I would be right in any negative reaction; after all, that’s what was done to me, right? My insides were in knots. I had so many conflicting emotions. I went to the only place I know to find stability–at the feet of my God, Who reminded me of the above verse…In the situation with this individual, how did I show that I was a follower of Jesus? Did I let God’s Spirit work through me and give glory to My Father?
A few years back, my husband and I were doing some work outside, in front of our house. We have this bush (pictured above in its glory…lovely, growing, and full of life). Unfortunately, over the years, we saw more and more empty branches, and the more dead branches there were made the entire bush look super unhealthy! It was time to prune! I grabbed my hedge sheers and pruner and “went to town,” cutting off all the dead branches. At one point, my husband looked over at the measly little bush that remained and said, “We should just pull it out; there’s not going to be anything left.” I remember being so excited, though, in that moment, with the anticipation of what the pruning would do and discussing the spiritual visual God gave us in that bush. Not too long after, the bush was alive with new growth and was flourishing!
Lord, please use this situation to grow me, and flourish within me! Remove the roots of sin that need removing and enable me to truly live, so others can see You in me!