Friday, June 22, 2012

Devotional: Ability, Thy Name is Jesus Christ

I am human. What I am NOT is perfect. I have struggles with (insert issue here). But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them- yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul had struggles with feeling unworthy because of his past persecution of the church of God. Paul was one of the most influential apostles, yet was humble. Almost too humble. Many of us have struggles and, whether they be big or small, they effect how we as Christians walk the walk. My own personal struggle is the feeling of inadequacy, dumbing myself down and believing that I am not smart enough to share God's word. However, what many of us fail to realize is that it's not our own personal abilities that get us through. We are human and therefore are unable to share the message of God on our own due to living in sin. Paul talks about working harder than all his fellow apostles to share the message with others, yet he acknowledges that without God's grace and kindness, his hard work would have been fruitless. All this is not to say though that anyone is worthless. It's just saying to look at yourself through God's perspective and understand his work in you.

Now here comes the tricky part...finding balance. Romans 1:16 says, I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes... How do you get past your "shame" and share the word of God? Paul knew that regardless of his past, he was a new man in God, and sharing the word of God was too important to let shame or insecurities get in the way. He was making a bold statement that though he may be ashamed of his past, he's not ashamed of the word of God! So the answer is this: when you feel shame or feel those insecurities creep in, focus on God! It's says in the word, "I am the way, the truth, and the light." It also says in the book of Jeremiah 29:11 that God has a plan for us that will benefit us and not harm us. When you just focus on God and follow after him, you worry less about your own struggles. Proverbs 3:5-6 says, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths straight. Remember these two verses as well... 2 Corinthians 12:9, Jesus said, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness."  Therefor I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ's power may rest on me. Also, Philippians 4:13, I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength. Keep sharing the word of God no matter what lies the devil tries to throw your way! I guarantee you won't regret it! 2 Timothy 4:17... The Lord stood at my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed.

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Devotional: It's Only Natural

Have you ever heard the expression, "Take time to stop and smell the roses?" There is a lot of wisdom in that expression, particularly since it pertains to taking time to notice the things around you. Romans 1:20 says, For since the creation of the world, God's invisible qualities- his eternal power and divine nature- have been clearly see, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. When God made the world, he put every ounce of love into it. When you put love and care into the things you make, it shows. This is what God did with the world! He made His love and power so clear in his creations that no one could doubt there being a higher power. Psalm 104:1-30 says, Praise the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God you are very great; you are clothed with splendor and majesty. He wraps himself in light as with a garment; he stretches out the heavens like a tent and lays the beams of his upper chambers on their waters. He makes the clouds his chariot and rides on the wings of the wind. He makes winds his messengers, flames of fire his servants. He set the earth on its foundations; it can never be moved. You covered it with the deep as with a garment; the waters stood above the mountains. But at your rebuke the waters fled, at the sound of your thunder they took flight; they flowed over the mountains, they went down into the valleys, to the place you assigned for them. You set a boundary they cannot cross; never again will they cover the earth. He makes springs pour out water into the ravines; it flows between the mountains. They give water to all the beasts of the field; the wild donkeys quench their thirst. The birds of the air nest by the waters; they sing among the branches. He waters the mountains from his upper chambers; the earth is satisfied by the fruit of his work. He makes grass grow for the cattle, and plants for man to cultivate- bringing forth food from the earth: wine that gladdens the heart of man, oil to make his face shine, and bread that sustains his heart. the trees of the Lord are well watered, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. There the birds make their nests; the stork has it home in the pine trees. the high mountains belong to the wild goats; the crags are a refuge for the coneys. The moon marks off the seasons, and the sun knows when to go down. your bring darkness, it becomes night, and all the beasts of the forest prowl. The lions roar for their prey and seek their food from God. the sun rises, and they steal away; they return and lie down in their dens. Then man goes out to his work, to his labor until evening. How many are your works, O Lord! In wisdom you made them all; the earth is full of your creatures. there is the sea, vast and spacious, teeming with creatures beyond number- living things both large and small. There the ships go to and fro, and the leviathan, which you formed to frolic there. These all look to you to give them their food at the proper time. When you give it to them, they gather it up; when you open your hand, they are satisfied with good things. When you hide your face, they are terrified; when you take away their breath, they die and return to the dust. When you send your Spirit, they are created, and you renew the face of the earth.

Now what does this have to do with "smelling the roses?" One, when we get caught up in the business of our won lives, it gets harder and harder to see God in the things around us. This is one of the reasons why God wants us to be, what is referred to in Romans 12, living sacrifices. When we give up the things that seem more important to us, it makes it easier to see what has been right in front of us all along. Two, when we take time to appreciate the works of God, it gives us a more positive outlook on life. The most important example being with people. Ephesians 2:10 says, For we are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus... We are God's masterpiece, the crown jewels of all his creations. Somehow though, it's easier to see God's love in a rainbow or the stars rather than a person, particularly if this person isn't easy to get along with. So, when you take time to see the beauty of God in people, no matter how bad they may seem.

Now I know that the beginning scripture, Romans 1:20, is talking about God making himself so known through his creations, that no one could say that they don't know who God is. However, if we ourselves could just take the time to see and appreciate God and his love around us, it would help us to learn to look deeper in people. By learning to seek out God's love in a person, and trying to see why God made that person that way, you become that beautiful creation to that other person. They see God in you, and it could help turn that person around for the better. So take time to see God in not only the things around you, but also in others. It will bring you closer to God and also help you be a light to others. Psalm 8:3-5... When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower that the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 

Friday, June 1, 2012

Devotional: King of Hearts

If you have ever played Texas Hold'Em, you know what happens: You put in your ante. Then opening bets are made. The first three cards go down, then more bets are made. Another card, more bets. Final card, final bets. Once the final bets are made, the cards are flipped to see who won. There are times when you get a good hand, but 75 percent of the time, it's all about bluffing. You could bet 500 dollars and only have an ace in your hand. You could bet 50 dollars and have a straight. The point is that your bet doesn't always reflect what cards you have. It works the same way with us. Sometimes our words or actions don't reflect our thoughts or what's in our hearts. John 2:25 says, He did not need man's testimony about man, for he knew what was in a man. When I am honest with God about whatever I am thinking or feeling at any point in time, it's easier to see him as a "friend" rather than God and King. In the midst of our feelings or emotions, we forget that God knows our hearts and what we are thinking, and often times we don't just talk to him about it for several reasons. One, we think he might not approve. Two, we lack faith or hope. Three, sometimes we just don't think he's listening. There could be other reasons as well. The point is that God loves you and he's not just the ruler of the heavens and the earth. He is your ultimate best friend! Plus, he all ready knows what's going on inside of you, and also, it's nice just to have someone to talk to! Just be honest with Him, otherwise it's like trying to beat Him at Texas Hold'Em, and you will always lose for two reasons: He is both the dealer and a player in the game, and he always has a Royal Flush! Lol :) Psalm 139:7-10... Where can I got from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. James 4:8... Come near to God and he will come near to you...