Will I Choose Silence?

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Do you ever feel inadequate? Maybe you don’t use your gifts because you think they aren’t good enough.

I often feel inadequate as a voice speaking out. I look back on previous devotions and see I need my own advice! It’s frustrating. Part of me thinks I need to be more “spiritual” or “victorious” to share a message with others. But, I suspect readers relate more to my struggles than to my victories. No one has it all together and shouldn’t give the impression they do. However, this struggle doesn’t go away.

Recently, I was doing my daily  SOAP  reading and this verse stood out:

“For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:14

Queen Esther had the opportunity to speak up for her people and possibly save them from destruction, but she was afraid. There was a good chance she would die if she approached the king without being summoned. Her uncle Mordecai gave her the advice in verse 14, telling her if she kept silent, God would bring deliverance from another place.

The truth of that verse hit me. “If you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise…from another place.” I realized I can stay silent, but if I do, God will use someone else to share His message. I’m the one who misses out if I don’t share. God will find a messenger. He will accomplish His purposes on earth. For Him to ask me is a privilege: not a right. If I deny that privilege, I lose it. I want Him to use others but I don’t want to miss out on that opportunity! If I keep silent and don’t share through writing, I’ll miss the blessing of experiencing God working through me. I’ll miss the encouragement that comes from others. I don’t want to treat lightly the grace He is giving me by offering opportunities to share His truth. I can’t take that for granted. Opportunities come from Him. I’m not entitled to the privilege of sharing through writing.

Yes, I need to seek Him, live for Him, and know the truth of His Word: otherwise, what I have to share will grow thin. Living for myself doesn’t produce fruit. But, the fact that I stumble and fall and struggle with my flesh doesn’t disqualify me from the race. I’m humbled and awed that He would still give me opportunities and still use me to encourage others. I don’t deserve that privilege. It’s all grace.

What are your gifts?

How is God using you?

If you struggle at times with feeling unworthy to use those gifts, remember if you stay silent, if you put your gifts aside, God will send someone else, use someone else and you will be left without the blessing that comes from serving Him. He wants to use all His children. He wants all believers to operate in the body as one.

We are all important and together we fulfill His purpose on earth.

I don’t want to miss out on experiencing Him working through me.

Father, thank you for the grace you give me every moment, every day. It’s amazing grace that I can even come to you in prayer. Thank you for the opportunities you give me to serve, to share, to write, and to give. Help me to take each one. Open my eyes to see when and where to speak and what to say. Open my ears to hear your call. Please work through me and let your will be done not mine. May all glory always go to you.

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God’s Beautiful Creation

God’s beautiful creation astounds me.

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Love Everyone?

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Anyone who says they hate in the name of Jesus is deceived.

Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you.” James 6:27-28

Does that mean love the white supremacist? Yes. Does that mean love ISIS members? Yes. Love Donald Trump? Yes. Love Hilary Clinton? Yes. Love Democrats? Yes. Love Republicans? Yes. Love all races? Yes. Love those you disagree with? Yes. A follower of Jesus is called to love ALL in His name.

That doesn’t mean we agree with all. It doesn’t mean we believe the same way. It doesn’t even mean we never stand up for what we believe or that we never fight evil.

Having hate in our hearts is something else.

Hate destroys the one it abides in.

Jesus goes on to say in Luke 6:35-36, “But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.”

We all were enemies of God but He loved us anyway and sent Jesus to die for us. He shows us mercy every day. We are to pray for those who are caught up in hate and evil. We are to pray for our leaders. Having hate in our hearts won’t change anyone except to change us into bitter, angry people.

We can’t do it in our own strength but Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to help us. With His power in us, we can love all, even our enemies.

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Indestructible!

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S – “This becomes even more evident when another priest arises in the likeness of Melchizedek, who has become a priest, not on the basis of a legal requirement concerning bodily descent, but by the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews 7:15-16

O – Jesus is the “other” priest. He became our great High Priest because of the power of an indestructible life. Jesus, God, is indestructible. It is impossible for anything to ever happen to God and no power is capable of destroying Him. Every fantasy we ever had about any superhero is more than fulfilled in Christ. Even in our imagination, there is none greater.

A – This indestructible High Priest is my Savior! He is my Lord. My protector. My Sovereign. Even my Friend. Mind blowing truth.

P – I bow before you Father and worship at your feet. That you in your holiness and greatness would love me and love me enough to send perfection to die for me. Words cannot express thanks. I lay my imperfect love at your feet.

SOAP Bible Study Method

 

 

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To Do or To Be? That is the Question.

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I like having a “To Do” list. Following the list instead of getting overwhelmed thinking about all there is to do is encouraging. I check things off as I go and see my progress. And a completed list feels good! But is a “To Do” list the most important? There are lots of tasks that demand my attention. Vacuum the house, do laundry, go to the bank, buy groceries, and the list can go on forever.

What about my “To Be” list? Do I think about that? When I wake up in the morning, my to do list is already in my head. Do I wake up thinking about what I’m to be?

If I made a “To Be” list for today, what would it look like?

To Be:

Be patient on the road, in the grocery aisle, waiting in line.

Be loving to those who wait on me today, to those who crowd the aisles, to those who “interrupt” my tasks.

Be kind and gentle with each person who crosses my path even when they irritate me or block my way.

Be self-controlled not over indulging with food and drink, not giving in to temper fits, not being lazy.

Be joyful walking in praise and thanksgiving to my Father who has given me this day of life.

Be faithful to Him. Putting Him first. Listening to and following His Spirit.

Be prayerful. Praying without ceasing.

Don’t forget to put on compassion and humility!

What if by following my “To Be” list, I can’t accomplish all that is on my “To Do” list?

“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

How do I put my “To Be” list before my “To Do” list?

Begin the day with Jesus.

Slow Down.

Listen.

Follow.

Take a breath and pray before each task.

Open my eyes and see.

When I don’t focus on what I’m to be, I rush into my day working on my list, ignoring people who wait on me, getting irritated with those who get in my way, showing impatience to those who are “slow”, and acting prideful as if I’m the only one who matters.

It matters much more to God that I show patience to the checker than if I arrive home on time. He is more concerned about me giving someone a smile then how long it takes me to accomplish my task. He doesn’t care how long it takes me to do my list. He cares how I treat others as I go. Ouch! That hits home with me.

Jesus, please open my eyes to see those around me. Help me to remember what matters. You said if I seek you first above all that you would add the rest. Help me to make loving you and loving others my utmost priority and to trust you with everything else. I can’t do this in my strength. I confess that I am weak. Please Holy Spirit, move through me to show others your love.

I first published this at Internet Cafe Devotions.

 

 

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Do I Love God More Than Pleasure?

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S – “…lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people….always learning and never able to arrive at a knowledge of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:4b-5,7

O – Paul is telling Timothy what it will be like in the last days.

A – I don’t want to love pleasure more than God! We have so much pleasure in our culture. It’s so easy to get caught up in good food, nice homes, vacations, clothes, entertainment, so much is right at our fingertips. The more we give our flesh, the more it wants. We can easily, I easily, slip into living for the next meal, the next fun event, the next “comfort”, the next purchase. But what’s that? Those are all temporary distractions. None of that means anything in eternity. Loving God is primary, loving God is supreme, loving God is for eternity. I don’t want to “appear” godly but have no power of the Spirit in my life or to always be learning but never really encounter the truth.

P – Please Jesus, help me to keep my love for you primary in my life. Help me know how to live in the world without living for the world and its pleasures. The pleasures aren’t sinful necessarily but they can turn my eyes from you. Please help me live in balance. Please Lord, help me live in the power of the Spirit, help me know truth.

SOAP Bible Study

 

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A Beautifully Woven Story

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I enjoy romantic fiction. Even better is when a romance has meaning and purpose to the story. Jennifer Slattery’s new book, Healing Love is one of those stories. Brooke is a career minded young woman who is focused on becoming a broadcast journalist. She finds herself side-tracked when she feels forced to go on a mission trip to El Salvador to chaperone her younger sister. She’s not prepared for the emotional impact the trip will have on her heart.

Looking hungry orphans in the eye, seeing the poverty children live in, and comparing that to the life of affluence back home causes her to re-examine her priorities. She finds herself drawn to the handsome translator, Ubaldo, who is their guide and driver for the trip. Ubaldo has pre-conceived ideas about visitors from North America and his prejudices are challenged when he meets Brooke and sees that she has true compassion. We also meet 12-year-old Fatima and her younger sister who end up homeless in order to avoid a painful and dangerous situation.

Can a group of affluent teens from America make a difference in El Salvador? Brooke and Ubaldo are attracted to each other but they live thousands of miles apart and come from different worlds. How could they ever have a relationship? Will Fatima and Dinora survive on the streets without food and water? Ubaldo is trying to help his people find a way out of poverty while he himself struggles to find a place to live.

Jennifer takes all these threads and weaves them into a beautiful story. She paints a clear picture of life in El Salvador and challenges us to consider reaching out beyond ourselves to help others. This book is written with humor, truth, and hope. It includes romance, faith, and gives us a glimpse into another culture. If you enjoy a fiction story that challenges you as well as giving you an entertaining story, you will like this book. I highly recommend Healing Love.

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