Posted in Devotion

Falling In Love Part Two

It is so easy for me to spend time with my boyfriend and look forward to that time. I want to talk with him each day. Sometimes life is busy and our conversations are limited to text messages, but that’s not enough. I desire that focused conversation time whether in-person or over the phone. I want our friends and family to know us and to like us together, so we’ve spent time hanging out with other people. We do fun things like play games, mini-golf, or shoot pool, but I also relish the time we get to talk and do nothing else. Just like I started discussing in a previous post, our relationships with humans should reflect our relationship with God.

A married woman in my Bible study group compared her relationship with her husband to how she should treat her time with God. She talked about how sometimes her husband wants to be lovey-dovey, but she just wants to watch the TV show or do the dishes. She spoke of how sometimes it’s okay to talk with him while doing other things, but she recognizes that they need time in their marriage where it’s just the two of them being together. Likewise, it’s so easy to multitask while we pray and claim we are “praying without ceasing”. That’s fine, and God wants that constant communication, but He also wants the intentional time as well. Just as a spouse, or boyfriend in my case, wants and needs the focused alone time, God wants us to set aside everything and spend time with him.

These thoughts leave me with a few reflection questions for myself that maybe we should all be asking. Do I crave the time with God like I desire the time with my boyfriend? Do I long for opportunities to introduce God to my loved ones? Can I just sit and talk with God for hours? Do I set aside everything to have that daily time with God?

I’m thankful that God is loving and merciful because I can’t honestly answer yes to all of those questions every single day. I thank God for this metaphor, and pray that God would stir my passion for him every day. I pray that each of us would clear our minds and hearts for focused God time each day. I hope we all start falling in love with God just a little bit more.

Posted in Devotion

A Battle To Fight

On Sunday at church, my pastor made the statement that “when we worship God, we engage in warfare.”

Several times in the past month Ephesians 6 has come into my life: my daily devotional, a Wednesday night service at my boyfriend’s church, and the following Sunday at my church. If you’re not aware, Ephesians 6 cautions Christians to be ready for spiritual attack and gives practical advice about spiritual armor to don.

The Reality of Spiritual Warfare

Honestly, as many times as I’ve heard this passage or read it myself, I’ve never really thought about the battle going on spiritually. Yeah, I believed there was and I liked the metaphor of the armor, but I didn’t really take it seriously. Now, though, I realize it’s real. Not only is Satan, the world, and our flesh trying to keep people from knowing God at all, it’s also trying to keep us from following God’s will. Just based upon the negative thoughts in my head alone (see my previous post) I believe that spiritual warfare definitely exists. Satan and the world try to draw me away from God’s truths by convincing me that I am not enough in one aspect or another.

Another way we are attacked is through blinding to God’s work. Luke 24:32 says “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scripture?”.  How many times has God worked in my life or around me and I have been blinded? Maybe I attributed it to hard work or coincidence when really God was behind it. Maybe I was just so consumed by the work or negativity that I didn’t even notice the blessing.

We have be careful not to give Satan too much power though. Firstly, not all spiritual warfare comes from him; some of the attacks come from the world/society, and some of them come from our sinful fleshly nature created by the fall in the garden. Secondly, Satan is not equal with God. Satan was an angel who fell and was banished from God’s presence. That does not equal God. Satan really doesn’t have powers; he works mainly by manipulation and deceit. That’s why he’s called the “father of lies”. Ever read The Screwtape Letters? Notice that those demons can’t actually force anyone to do anything- they simply suggest to the humans that there is a different way than God’s way and make that darker way look more enticing.

The Effects of Spiritual Warfare

When there are spiritual battles taking place, no one is safe. My pastor gave a definition for war zone, “a combat area where the rights of neutrals are suspended”. This means that no one is safe during a battle. Think about an earthly war. In the war zone, innocent people get hurt or killed simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time. I used to think that the spiritual warfare stuff was for more mature Christians, and I would just sit on the sidelines and pray for those fighting the battle. The truth is that we’re all in the battle, even those who don’t believe in God. That led to think about the question of why bad things happen to good people; the answer seems clear- there’s a war going on and innocent people get caught in the effects.

The Antidote to Spiritual Warfare

Both of the sermons I heard about this passage and topic, which were given at completely disconnected churches two hours away from one another, said the best way to fight against spiritual warfare is to love others. Sounds simple. Well try loving a teenager who consistently says no and is distracting the rest of the class from the lesson. That’s warfare, and in those moments I must figure out a way to still express love to that student.

Ultimately the antidote to the war is Jesus. We can’t fight without him, but the also the reality is that he has already won the war. Colossians 2:13 says that Jesus “disarmed principalities and powers”. In fact, Satan knows the war was won when Jesus died and rose again, but he runs around deceiving us that he still has a chance to succeed. He tries to distract us from praising, praying, and loving by causing bad things to happen.

Call to Action

It’s time we take off our blinders and stop succumbing to the distractions and noise. It’s time we look at God and realize the battle is already finished. It’s time we start praising God and telling Satan, the world, and our flesh who really is boss of this world. It’s time to kick some spiritual butt.

 

 

Posted in Devotion

Standing Firm

Maybe I’ve written this before, but I’m writing it again with new words as a reminder to myself and hopefully an encouragement to you.

Stand firm against the schemes of the devil. Ephesians 6:11b

How does Satan attack me? Through the little lies that enter my head. Just like Eve in the garden, he puts doubts about God’s character and God’s plan in my head. He makes me doubt what is good around me. I try to maintain a regular devotional and prayer time- he says, “did God ever say you have to read every day? You’re tired, so take a day off.” My boyfriend compliments me, and Satan shoots it down by pointing out all of my flaws. When I face something difficult, Satan convinces me that I have to do it all on my own without God or humans. I have an idea of something to write, and Satan whispers that someone has already written it better. The list goes on with the little lies that Satan puts in my mind.

Paul reminds me to stand firm. The only way to do that is to maintain a strong relationship with God. It means resisting the devil by opening my Bible even when I’m tired. It means catching myself in the mental comparison game and instead thanking God for the beauty and health he’s given me. It means accepting God’s strength and human help when tasks look daunting. It means sharing my thoughts even though they may not be unique.

Mostly standing firm means covering my life with prayer.

This note from one of my students says it so well.
Posted in Devotion

Satisfaction

What makes you completely happy and content? Maybe it’s a good time with friends or a tall cup of coffee. Maybe you find happiness in a thrilling novel or feel complete when you’re with your special someone. When you were younger maybe you threw a tantrum in the store because you thought only the newest gizmo would satisfy you. Now that you’re older, you understand that the toy you wanted so badly didn’t make you happy for long, but you still long for the newest phone or a bigger house.

Whatever it is that you think will satisfy you, it won’t last.

Believe me, I’ve tried to satisfy my longing for love and security and happiness with a variety of things. None of those things were bad in and of themselves, but their satisfaction level only lasted a brief moment.

Truly nothing will satisfy us like God.

Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. Psalm 90:14

We all long acceptance, love, and contentment, but only God can fill that thirst. How does that happen? God fills us completely when we spend time with him, whether that’s through a church service, Bible reading, prayer time, or worship through song.

My prayer for myself is that I will seek God more when I’m feeling thirsty rather than seeking earthly things.

Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Satisfy me Lord, oh oh
Yeah, I’m begging You, to help me see
You’re all I want, You’re all I need
Oh, satisfy me Lord

-Tenth Avenue North

 

Posted in Devotion

Fully known, Fully loved

Let’s get real. Being vulnerable and letting others see the real me is not easy or something I do very often. I imagine I’m not alone in this either. One of my deepest fears is that someone will see past my surface and not like what they see. It’s a struggle with self-confidence, and it’s not only a problem for teenagers.

Some days I can clearly see all of the good qualities God has given me, but other days I feel blinded. So I hide. I allow the lies of Satan to convince me that trusting will only lead to heartbreak. He tells me that there’s nothing inside that is worth sharing. If you’ve had the same thoughts, they’re lies. Maybe letting other people in will lead to heartbreak, but God made us for relationship. Maybe there is some badness inside each of us, but God can redeem anything if we let him.

The truth of the matter is that God, the one whose opinion matters most, has already seen all of my flaws and accepts me just the way I am. Nothing I do can separate me from him now that we’re connected. That truth gives me the freedom to trust earthly relationships. God is holding my heart so even if it gets hurt by someone who rejects me, God will keep it together and mend it.

Even in my insecurities I publicly proclaim, borrowing the words of Tauren Wells, “I’m fully known and loved” by God.

Posted in Devotion, Gratefulness

Rejoice Always

This time of year leaves me feeling drained, which can very easily drain me of my joy. I see the exhaustion taking its toll on my students as well. They and I lack motivation, often complain, and wonder if we’ll ever catch a break in the schedule. It’s the fourth week of school, and it can be very easy to forget Philippians 4:4-8.

This set of verses is the focus for my classes this year. It doesn’t directly relate to my content, but it does directly relate to our attitudes surrounding English class and life in general. It’s very easy to get discouraged, worry, or complain, but these verses remind us that there is always a reason to rejoice in God. We simply need to replace the negative thoughts with “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, anything with excellence, and anything worthy of praise”.

This morning I woke up feeling kind of under the weather physically, tired (in spite of going to bed at 9 pm), and unmotivated to face the day. As soon as I recognized that attitude in myself, I realized that I couldn’t let that negativity seep into my students. In order to combat that today, I started each class by asking the students what they could rejoice about today. Many said answers such as waking up, winning a game, or being one day closer to fall break. My attitude took a turn for the positive as a result of this simple exercise. Ultimately, we were able to remember that we can always rejoice in God because he is awesome!

(As a fun bonus, extol was one of our words of the day, so we were also able to talk about extolling God.)

Posted in Devotion

A Servant’s Heart

Let me tell y’all, I’m tired. Between teaching, volleyball, speech team, grad school, and attempting to maintain relationships with people, I go pretty non-stop. A lot of times I love it, but sometimes I get into a pity party and just want to be noticed. You ever been there? You just want someone to recognize how hard you’re working to do the good work.

As I read a quick passage tonight before bed, I was hit with some truth. Talking to his disciples, Jesus tells a story of a master and a servant. After working in the field, the servant is still asked to serve his master in the evening. The servant isn’t thanked for simply doing his job. Jesus says, “so you also, when you have done all that you were commanded, say ‘we are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'” (Luke 17:10).

A servant’s heart doesn’t need recognition for doing her job. As tired as I am and as tempting as it may be to grumble about not being recognized, I can rest knowing that I am doing God’s work here. That is enough recognition, knowing that God is pleased with my sacrifice and that I have the opportunity to do his work.