Thursday, May 31, 2012

Devotional: One Step At A Time

Picture this: You see a dad with his little child. That child is holding the dad's fingers very tightly. They are crossing through a parking lot. They come to a place where they need to stop. So the dad says to his child, "Okay, lets stop." They wait for the car to pass. "Okay, lets go again."  A car comes whipping around the corner so the dad says, "Whoa! Wait!" So the child quickly stops... If only we trusted God that way; the same way the little child daddy. Sometimes, we get so caught up in our own will that we try to move too fast or out of God's will. God just wants us to trust that he will take care of everything. For example: In Genesis 12:1, the Lord called Abraham to get up and leave his country, but did not tell him where to go. However, Abraham didn't doubt him. Even though he had no idea where he was moving to, he trusted that he would be taken care of. Another example is with Moses. It has been said that before God would part the Red Sea, Moses had to step out into the water in faith that the sea would split.

We believe that God can do anything, but we do doubt that from time to time. in our disbelief, we tend to cry out, "Not my will, but your will be done." While some people do truly mean this, some have said this out of doubt that they will receive their heart's desires. Rather than having faith, we throw faith to the wind, and we end up doing nothing about it. James 2:17 says: In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. God does not want us to do nothing! Sometimes we can't see where God wants us to go or what he wants us to do, but he still wants us to take action and take that next step, trusting that he will take care of us. Hebrews 11:1 says: Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see. I think Jeremy Camp said it very well: "I will walk by faith even when I cannot see because this broken road prepares you will for me." Matthew 17:20, "....I tell you the truth, if you have as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Devotional: Hopeless, Hopeful

The Story of Lazarus...John 11:17-44: On his arrival, Jesus found that Lazarus had all ready been in the tomb for four days. Bethany was less than two miles from Jerusalem, and many Jews had come to Martha and Mary to comfort them in the loss of their brotherWhen Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, but Mary stayed at home. "Lord," Martha said to Jesus, "if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask." Jesus said to her, "Your brother will rise again." Martha answered, I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day." Jesus said to her, "I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?"  "Yes, Lord," She told him, "I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who was to come into the world." And after she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary aside. "The Teacher is here," she said, "and is asking for you." When Mary heard this, she got up quickly and went to him. Now Jesus had not yet entered the village, but was still at the place where Martha had met him. When the Jews who had been with Mary in the house, comforting her, noticed how quickly she got up and went out, they followed her, supposing she was going to the tomb to mourn there. When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died." When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her were also weeping, he was deeply moved in the spirit and troubled. "Where have you laid him?" he asked. "Come and see, Lord," they replied. Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, "See how he loved him!" But some of them said, "Could not he who opened the eyes of the blind man have kept this man from dying?" Jesus, once more deeply moved, came to the tomb. It was a cave with a stone laid across the entrance. "Take away the stone," he said. "But Lord," said Martha, the sister of the dead man, "by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." Then Jesus said, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" So they took away the stone. Then Jesus looked up and said, "Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this for the benefit of the people stand here, that they may believe that you sent me." When he had said this, Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of lined, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." 

When Mary and Martha went to Jesus about Lazarus, they had hope that he would be well again. However, when Jesus was not there, Lazarus died. Immediately Mary and Martha had lost all hope and became angry at Jesus. "If only..." is a common thing to say when hope is frail. People often forget that when God places a desire in our hearts, he intends to fulfill it. We, however, being human, tend to lose hope when a small bump in the road comes along. "If only I were prettier, he would like me..." "If only I had more money, I could travel to many nations and share God's word..."  When in these questions God could be saying, "I have someone just for you," or "Just give it some time, and you will be a great missionary." There are times when things seem hopeless, but God doesn't want us to give up, because with God all things are possible. Mary and Martha thought all hope was gone when Lazarus died. Jesus did restore a new faith and hope when he brought Lazarus back to life. Hebrews 6:17-19 says: Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure... We have secure hope in God when we trust him to give us the desires of our hearts rather than trusting in ourselves. If you truly believe that anything is possible with God, then trust him to do what is right for you and don't give up hope. Romans 15:13, May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust him, so that you may overflow with the hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.