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

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

Don’t Be Like Scout

I was just informed that today is international cat day. These holidays don’t mean a whole lot to me, but my friend wanted to know if my cat, Scout, knew that today was a holiday in honor of his kind. My response was that Scout thinks everyday is International Scout Day.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my cat, and he brings me great happiness, but he doesn’t understand that he’s not the center of everything. In his mind, I should be ready to snuggle or play with or feed him when he’s ready for those things. Maybe some animals can sense their owner’s emotions, but he could care less if I am laughing or crying. In Scout’s world, it’s all about him.

Don’t be like Scout.

The Bible stresses humility and kindness toward others. In Philippians 4:3, Paul writes “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves“. The center of our world shouldn’t be ourselves; as believers our central focus should be God. After that we should strive to view and treat others the way God sees them. That includes the people we like and the people who get under our skin. We should be slow to judge and quick to serve others. It should be in our hearts to sacrifice of ourselves to serve others in order to glorify God.

In essence, don’t be like Scout, waiting on others to serve and love you when you need them and then ignoring their emotions and needs.

Posted in Devotion

Seeing Through God’s Lens

I want to see the world through God’s eyes and with the Bible as my point of reference. A couple of years ago, I wrote a post about seeing other people with God’s eyes, but lately I’ve been impressed upon to open my eyes a bit more and see everything and do everything through the lens of the Bible. As a Christian, God calls me to act, think, and speak differently. Everything I do must reflect God appropriately. That means that wherever I go, whomever I come in contact with, and whatever social or career roles I serve become a means for sharing the Gospel message.

Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Romans 12:2

Why is this necessary for a Christian? Why can’t I simply go to church on Sunday, maybe serve in some kind of ministry, and read my Bible in the morning? The answer is found in that verse: be transformed. To transform is to change entirely. The kind of change God wants from me is the kind of change that requires me to think about everything from a Biblical standpoint. When I read, I should ponder if the text supports or disagrees with what I know about the Bible. When I speak to people, I should try to be a loving example of Christ. When I pick out clothes, I should remember that God always sees what I wear. When I teach, I must remember that everything I say or do is being filtered by the young minds in front of me as truth; I want to be sure I’m speaking and acting in God’s truth.

The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of the evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks. Luke 5:45

In order to do this, I must study the Bible and spend time with God in order to discern how his truth guides me. Without God, I am nothing but a feeble attempt at being good. With God, I can be a light that shines brighter than the closest star. I want all parts of my life to reflect God. That means I must examine my heart and ask God to make me clean and pure in thought, deed, and word.

Posted in Devotion

Falling in Love

I remember the moment I accepted Christ’s gift of salvation, but I can’t pinpoint the exact moment I really fell in love with God. When I accepted Christ and his gift of salvation from my sins, I said yes that I wanted to start this relationship with him. I acknowledged his pursuit of me, recognized that he wanted to show me love, and desired to learn more about him. That was a decision, but after that it has been a journey of first learning how to be in that relationship and eventually falling in love. It really has been a sweet, sweet time, but it’s also had its rocky moments when I started to stray.

God designed relationships between men and women to reflect his relationship with us. There is a pursuit, similar to how God draws us close to him, and then a period of mutual attraction and interest, much like the time when we are learning about God before complete acceptance. Eventually a decision is made to establish a relationship (the DTR as it might be called), which resembles the moment of acceptance of salvation. After that, though, the couple has to figure out how to be in a relationship, and the relationship grows to love. Through watching movies and people in my life, I know that part is sweet and can also be rocky. Falling in love and maintaining love in a relationship is an ongoing choice to forgive mistakes and see the good in the other person.

Just like in earthly relationships, figuring out the relationship and falling in love with God can take time and work depending on the individual’s background and experiences. Take heart in your relationship with God if you feel like you are messing up on your end or don’t love him enough: God is better than any earthly partner. He’ll never give up on you no matter how long it takes for that falling in love stage to come to completion or how many times you allow something else to become more important than your love for him. God is faithful to forgive, and his love is deeper than any earthly relationship will ever offer.

**By no means am I trying to trivialize a relationship with God to fully resemble human relationships, which are easily flawed. Know that my experience with relationships is limited to the little I’ve experienced and what I’ve watched in other’s lives, but I pray some of this gives you hope and encourages you to fall more in love with God each day until we reach heaven and can love fully like He does.