Sunday, May 26, 2013

A Promise to Keep: My Favorite Bible Verses That Have Helped Me in My Spiritual Walk, Part I

I made it! Summer is finally here!
I survived exams and I am now on my official second day of summer. Yesterday was an adventure. I got to do some yard work, sleep in, eat gluten-free blueberry pancakes, and on top of that, I performed at a graduation party in my jazz band. It was a great day to start off the summer.

Now, my first order of business here at Victorious Heroine for the summer is to keep a promise that I made a few weeks back. Remember the poll that some of you viewers participated in? Well, there was a tie between two blog titles. The first was "My Favorite Bible Verses That Have Helped Me in My Spiritual Walk." So, I decided to dedicate this post completely to that topic. Since there are so many verses that fall into this category, I'm going to split it up into parts. For now, here is Part 1:

Part I: Verses on Encouragement, Hope, Walking in Faith, Love, and Beauty (7 of the Verses That I Wrote in the Back of My NIV Bible)

"I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth." --3 John 1:4
This is one of my favorite verses because it reminds me that God wants to see me succeed. He's not an evil villain holding the universe together, only to see His Creation constantly fail. He wants to see our faith! This is one of the most beautiful encouragements I ever received.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." --Philippians 4:13
I also like this verse because of it's encouragement. I've found that one of my primary love languages is "words of affirmation." I really feel like I can conquer the world when someone gives me a compliment or in some way tells me that I can achieve something or that I did something well. God gives me those all the time, as well as constructive criticism. But if God says that I can do anything as long as He's with me, it goes without saying that my day is made.

"But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, (Paul,) have become a servant." --Colossians 1:22-23
One of my favorite doctrines of my faith is that God is constantly transforming us in our hearts to completion. When I think about where my heart is on several points, and who I am as a person living in a sinful world, I would think that my being is beyond repair and beyond hope. But that's what the gospel is all about! God gives us hope by Jesus's death on the cross, that there may be hope for us and we can have a transformed heart to be completed. What a beautiful privilege that is.

"So, then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ." --Colossians 2:6-8
I often take the blessings in my life for granted of being raised in a devoutly Christian family, attending a private, classical, Christian school, and being rooted in a Christian environment my entire life. Some people have given me grief about it: "Don't you want to know what it's like in the 'real world?' Jesus doesn't have to be a part of everything! Isn't experiencing culture important in life?" These comments and questions have led to several of the most awkward conversations I have ever been in, believe me. Yes, I've wanted to experience a more "cultural" environment before. Sometimes I have thought that I've been deprived of the "real world." But I was wrong, because  I didn't realize that if I wanted to see the culture or "real world" around me, all I have to do is walk down Pearl Street in Boulder. Actually, all I have to do is walk outside. I live in the "real world," and there's no way around it. There isn't a Christian environment anywhere that can completely shelter people from the culture and secular environment in this world. Not one. Paul wasn't only talking to those especially "exposed to culture." He was talking to everybody. That includes me, the private Christian school student, my neighbors, my teachers, my parents, my siblings, the people flipping burgers at McDonald's, the rich, the poor, and the actors in Hollywood. Everyone is being spoken to in this verse. The world is surrounded by temptations from the enemy to fall into a false belief that it's okay to be influenced by the "real world." If we fall into that belief, that can lead to being exposed by all kinds of evil and deceptive philosophies which can make us lose our doctrines in the faith at our disposal forever. The point is that while no one can avoid culture, our job is to be confidently firm in the faith, finding our strength in God so that we really can say that nothing can touch us. While evil is everywhere in the world, God's bigger than all of it. We have to invite Him to take His place in our hearts to protect us from evil influence and deceptive philosophies. In my life, I will overflow with thankfulness for all the blessings He has given me, that I have been given the opportunity to be firmly rooted in the faith, as everyone else has been given such a gift.

"...his banner over me is love." --Song of Solomon 2:4b
Have you ever heard that song in Sunday School His Banner Over Me is Love? The first verse goes like this:
"The Lord is mine, and I am His,

His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine, and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
The Lord is mine, and I am His,
His banner over me is love.
His banner over me is love!"
I always enjoyed that song when I was a little preschooler in Sunday School in the Bible Belt. I remember several hymns and Sunday School songs like that, but for some reason, that particular song has stuck with me especially throughout the years. Perhaps it's because I like to feel safe. When Solomon said that the Lord kept over him a banner of love, I can relate to that. 1 Corinthians 13 says that "Love always protects." Now, love is much more than protection of course, but when I think of a "banner of love," the first thing that comes to mind is protection and rest.

"All beautiful you are, my darling; there is no flaw in you." --Song of Solomon 4:7
You all probably know what's coming. You all know the stories about girls that believe in the lie  that they have no worth or beauty for a season in their lives. I was one of those girls as well. Many of us get over it though, especially when we realize that God didn't create pieces of junk. He made beautiful masterpieces to bring grace, rest, and life. I love to read that God created me "all beautiful" and flawless, and I think everyone else loves it too.

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave. It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame." --Song of Solomon 8:6
I wrote this one down in the back of my Bible, knowing that it was important to me and that I would completely feel the fullness of it one day. I haven't gotten to that point yet, but I'm confident I will. I want to realize the ultimate power that love is, and almost feel it burn like a flame. I haven't reached complete understanding of this verse, but I recognize its importance, and I know that God will let it fully speak to me in time.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in this series! :)

Questions for the Reader: Are there any verses that you know were important to you, but you never fully understood? Are there any verses that have been specifically encouraging to you? In the same way that I think of protection and rest when I read Song of Solomon 2:4b, what characteristic(s) of love do you think of when you read that verse?

"The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe." --Proverbs 18:10

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