Toolbox #6: Black Gold to Flourish

Editor’s Note: As a reminder, we aren’t meeting in person for our final session of Jude, but we encourage you to read this last Toolbox piece by Jamie Harms and a summary of Jude 24 and 25 from Kathleen Harwood, both shared below. Then, tomorrow, you’ll find a reflection piece from Andi Hines on Jude, and to wrap up our study, we encourage you to listen to Jackie Hill Perry’s concluding session at lifeway.com/jude. You can either pay for the audio download or the video. Both are the same teaching. As always, reach out to us through the “Contact” tap on the blog or by sending an email to ufcwomen.blog@gmail.com if you have any questions or comments.

By Jamie Harms

One year our neighbors and we did an experiment. They had started a worm bin and had accumulated worm “tea” that they were going to add to their garden. We did not have a worm bin but planted our garden anyway. It became very obvious that there really was something to their worm “tea.” Our neighbors’ bushes produced more crops and looked better than anything that came out of our garden. Don’t get me wrong, we did enjoy veggies that year, but our neighbors’ produce was empirically better.  

For several years since then, we have composted to help our garden grow. We have tried worm bins, compost piles, leaf mulch, and the chicken coop cleanup to name a few. With compost bins, we put in all the scraps that we have accumulated, and over time, the mixture becomes like black gold. When spread around our plants, the word that comes to mind is flourish.

Our application of God’s Word is much like compost. When we draw from all the “scraps” that we have learned from His Word and put it all together with a few guidelines, we end up with rich soil in which our lives can bear much fruit. Just like compost, there is a way to do it right and get black gold and a way to do it that damages your plants. If you don’t turn your pile, you end up with just leaves and moldy food scraps that don’t benefit your plants at all. You must turn your pile.  

To turn the compost pile of your time in God’s Word, it starts with acknowledging His character. Only when we have a right view of our God does it give us a right view of ourselves. We then see that it is not under our own power but His that change happens in our hearts and minds. A simple model to keep application God-centered instead of self-centered is to use the gospel lens. After reading the passage for understanding, ask yourself the following simple questions: 

  1. What does this passage teach me about God?
  2. How does this aspect of God’s character change my view of self?
  3. What should I do in response to this truth today?

It is easy to come up with our own sanctification plan of things that we want to change in our own lives, but we end up burning out or comparing ourselves to others, which is like moldy compost. It doesn’t cause the seeds of God’s truth to flourish in us. Thus, we need that right perspective of who our God is as our foundation to change in our hearts and minds.

In this past season, we have spent a good chunk of time in Jude. As we will be missing our final session together, I have asked Kathleen to do a bit on application of what we have learned in our last week of study.


By Kathleen Harwood

This final week of study we had a chance to apply Scripture in a new way that I have never done before. Jude 24-25 are Jude’s “doxology.” Doxology is just a fancy word meaning that Jude wraps up his letter by giving praise to God. And we get to do the same! I love this because, after all that has been said, we, like Jude, can bring our focus back to what matters — who God is, who we are in relation to Him, what He can do, and when He can do it! Here’s what Jude says, 

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

So much is packed into these two verses, and Jackie masterfully leads us through what each section of the doxology means (so I encourage you to spend some time working through the homework). And then on the last day of the homework, you get to do the “applying.” You get to put pen to paper and write out your own doxology, your own praise to God for who He is and all He has done. Your doxology can be long or short. You can write one, all-encompassing doxology or several, condensed doxologies focusing on different things. But either way, try it out. Simply begin by praising God for who you’ve seen Him to be in Jude, in the Bible, in your own life. List out some things you want to thank Him for, reasons you want to praise Him. Put in a reminder that God doesn’t change. All you know about God has not only been true from the beginning of time, but is still true TODAY, and it will be true tomorrow, no matter what you are facing. Finally, write out your response to it all. In the examples Jackie gives in the homework, the response was “Amen,” meaning “so it is” or “let it be.” By saying “Amen” you affirm that you believe and agree with God and all He says. So, add your “Amen,” either by using that word or by writing out your own declarations of commitment and belief in who God is and what He has said. This is your chance to tell Him you believe Him, you surrender to Him — His plan, His timing and His way.

In these turbulent times, one of the most powerful ways we can apply Scripture is to put God’s truth in our minds, to meditate on what He says is true, and to remind each other of His truth, so that we then live based on the truth! Writing out a doxology is an opportunity to do that — to prayerfully put into words what you know about God, to thank Him for who He is, and to reaffirm your trust in His perfect plan, even in the midst of uncertainty, or waiting, or a pandemic.

No doubt, like me, you’re encountering many who are fearful (believers and unbelievers alike). What a blessing to be equipped with God’s Word firmly written on your heart and mind so you can stand firm, so you can contend for the faith as needed, and so you can speak words of encouragement to those who are struggling! As Jamie said, take all you’ve been compiling from all your time in the word, use it like “black gold” to fertilize what you think, what you say and what you do, and then watch what God produces!

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