It amazes me how society will esteem people because of their social connections, education, career successes, and financial status. I wonder how different life would be if we all acquired a perspective that recognizes God as the giver of all things. The assignment on your life. The gifts and talents that you have. The goals that you have accomplished. It’s all much bigger than you are.
God gave him those divine connections. God granted her the education. God opened the door for him to have a successful career. God gave her financial prosperity. It had nothing to do with the person. Whatever God has blessed us with, we must remember two things:
1) Acknowledge God for what He has given us. He’s not a respecter of persons, so we cannot boast about deserving what we have. He gives out of his own goodness.
2) The gift is so much bigger than you think it is. So what if people admire you for what you have. Did you ever consider that God gave to you so that you might be a blessing to others? Might it be that God gave you an educated mind so that you could create systemic change?
I thought of this when I read about the miracle that Peter performed in Acts 3. A man had been crippled since birth, and Peter healed his body and enabled him to walk. After he’d been healed, the man began walking, jumping, and praising God (see Acts 3:7-8). What caught my attention is how the people treated Peter differently after the miracle took place.
“While the beggar held on to Peter and John, all the people were astonished and came running to them…When Peter saw this, he said to them: “Men of Israel, why does this surprise you? Why do you stare at us as if by our own power or godliness we had made this man walk?” ~Acts 3:11-12
The people treated Peter and John like celebrities. I like the way Peter asks them why they reacted the way that they did. If you read a little further, he tells the people that the man was healed by the power of Jesus (see Acts 3:16).
What do we learn from this? If people praise us for the gifts that God has placed within us, we are to state clearly that the power that we operate with is not of our own. We should also point people back to God. Deflect the praise that is given to you back to God.
As we influence the sphere that God has placed us in, may we be mindful of the true source of our power. Our work is so much bigger than we are. Rather than get drunk off the accolades and praises from people, we need to make sure that we are careful to point people to God. You never know whose soul might be saved because of it.
Have you ever waited for something?
Maybe it took you ten years to finish a four-year degree. Maybe you saved for months so that you could buy something that you really wanted. Maybe you’ve been single for a while, and as your biological clock keeps ticking, you wonder how much longer will I have to wait for my spouse? I’ve waited for many things over the course of my life, and each season of waiting tests my patience, my devotion to God, and my ability to persevere.
I thought of this when I read about Hannah in 1 Samuel 1. You see, Hannah was unable to bear children for her husband. In her culture, this was a disgrace. To be barren was to be considered as forgotten by God. What made it worse is her husband had another wife, Peninnah, who’d been able to bear many children. Peninnah teased Hannah repeatedly, further adding salt to the wound. Not only was Hannah barren, she also had to endure being taunted for her inability to reproduce.
What I appreciate about Hannah, is that she didn’t engage in Peninnah’s shenanigans. Instead, she poured her heart out to the Lord (See 1 Samuel 1:15b). She promised God that if He gave her a son, she would dedicate the baby back to Him. A little while later, she conceived and gave birth to Samuel. And the promise she made?–she kept it. God gave her a son, and she dedicated the gift of her son back to Him.
“I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So now I give him to the Lord…” ~1 Sam. 1:27-28
Hannah challenges me. In her barrenness, she remained devoted to God. She reverenced God in spite of how the situation looked. I’m crazy enough to believe that even if Hannah hadn’t conceived, she still would have remained faithful in her worship.
I’m also challenged by the fact that Hannah did not allow her situation to keep her from talking to God. Her condition was frustrating and humiliating, but she prayed and worshipped through it. Scripture suggests that she waited a long time before she became a mother. But a major highlight is her commitment to God during the waiting season—a season in which it wasn’t clear whether God would answer her prayer the way she wanted Him to.
You may have been waiting a long time for something. Don’t let the length of time you’ve been waiting affect your faithfulness to God. Don’t stop praying. Don’t stop glorifying God. If you’re led to fast, then see it through to the end. Regardless of how God chooses to respond, honor Him anyway. Worship while you wait.
Have you ever been in a situation in which it seemed that God was silent? You pleaded to Him for days, months, or even years–but He did not say a word. He didn’t even appear to be operating in the situation around you. In the midst of the endless waiting, a feeling of urgency set in. You felt desperate.
I don’t know what your situation entailed. Maybe you didn’t know how you were going to pay your bills, or where your next meal was coming from. Or maybe you were sick but didn’t have health insurance. I’m thinking about times in the past when I felt desperate, but maybe you are going through a tough time right now. After pleading to God and not hearing from him, one can only ask: God, where are you? I have called on you, but you’re not answering me. Why aren’t you responding to me? Why are you silent?
The prophet, Habakkuk, struggled with God’s silence in the midst of turmoil. Devastation was on the horizon. He foresaw Judah falling to the Babylonian empire. It was only a matter of time. As each day passed it became more apparent that his city would soon be overtaken. As he noticed evil triumphing all around him, he could only ask, “God, where are you?”
As he wrestled with God’s silence, and seemingly inactivity, he finally came to a breaking point. That’s where we find this scripture:
“Though the fig tree does not bud, and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”~Habakkuk 3:17-18
Habakkuk said “yet I will rejoice in the Lord.” He decided that in spite of his circumstances, he would still praise God. Regardless of whether he had food to eat, his mind was made up. He would praise God. If devastation surrounded him, he would still lift up the name of the one who had sustained him.
As you consider Habakkuk’s circumstance, I challenge you with this: Don’t allow your situation to affect your memory of who God is. If times are tough, He is still God. If there is pain in your body, He is still God. Regardless of what you’re going through, the God you serve has not changed. He is still powerful and mighty, and He is present even if it seems that He is not.
Decide to praise God simply for who He is. Even if you don’t get the job. Even if you can’t pay the bill. Even if your marriage is on the rocks. Even if your children rebel against you. Even if it seems that you keep taking two steps forward, but somehow end up three steps back. Praise Him simply because he is God.
It is my prayer that we will not allow our circumstances to jade our memory of who God is. If He doesn’t do anything else for you, He has already done enough. Praise Him simply because of who He is. The great redeemer, the wonderful savior. He is God, and He is worthy to be praised.
“So the chief priests made plans to kill Lazarus as well. For on account of him many of the Jews were going over to Jesus and putting their faith in him.” ~John 12:10-11
Jesus did an amazing thing. He raised Lazarus from the dead. He did the impossible. He obliterated everyone’s expectations and brought a man back to life.
As the story would have it, not everyone was happy about the miracle. The corrupt priests were so concerned about their status among the people that they could not even recognize the miracle that had been performed. Instead, the leaders plotted for a way to kill Lazarus. They wanted to kill the miracle. They wanted to destroy the one who was a walking testimony of the work that Jesus had done.
The fact that Lazarus died was important. The resurrection could not have occurred….the victory could not have transpired if Lazarus had not died first. Think about a situation that almost took you out of here. Think about the near death experience that you might have had…the hope that was lost…only for God to step in, turn it around, and make Himself known. When I was little girl, I used to hear the older folks say, “The devil thought he had me, but Jesus reached out and grabbed me.” I feel like shouting even as I write this.
You see, you can’t experience resurrection unless something has died. Lazarus was dead for four days before he was brought back to life. I read about the process of decomposition that takes place when a person dies, but I will spare you the details. Lets just say a lot of decay can take place in four days.
If you think of areas in your life that are in need of resurrection, (i.e. your career, relationship with your partner, walk with the Lord, etc.), don’t get discouraged. It might seem as if that part of your life has died. Perhaps that part of you has decayed and rotted. Know that even still, God can resurrect it. He brings life to dead situations. Lazarus experienced it. Shoot, if you fast forward a little bit, Jesus exemplified it.
They tried to kill Lazarus. They felt threatened, and planned to take him out. They wouldn’t have tried to hurt him if there wasn’t something amazing within him. And even in the midst of the haters, there isn’t one scripture that says Lazarus was ashamed of the work that had been performed in his life. People will talk about you. Some will not believe the transformative work that God has performed within you or in the situation that surrounds you. It’s easy to get embarrassed when we consider the journey that we’ve gone through, or the road that still looms ahead of us. Don’t be ashamed. God can overcome alcoholism, drug addiction, sexual promiscuity. He can transform a gossip, a liar, a cheater, and a deceiver. And the amazing thing about God is that He is so thorough in His work that he can make it so that you don’t even have any residue. People will look at you and see the glory of God, but they won’t know the entire story of what it took to get you here.
Give that dead thing to God and let Him breathe life into it. Give him your career, your marriage, your children, your finances. He can fix the situation. And when He has done it, walk with your head high knowing that you are a canvass displaying the work that God has performed.
Give God the glory.
I am a mother, a wife, a writer, and an artist. I love to dance. I love to sing. I love theater, photography, and poetry.
As I continue on the path of finding balance, I find myself missing the woman that I used to be. I’m still strong and creative. I’m still a survivor and a fighter. I am determined. I am victorious. I am a daughter of the most high God. But…there is something missing.
While reading my Bible, I came across this passage: “…Jesus called out in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face. Jesus said to them, ‘Take off the grave clothes and let him go.'” ~John 12:43-44
In this passage, Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead. Having been dead for four days, it’s not surprising that Martha, Lazarus’ sister, cautions Jesus about approaching the body. It must have smelled horribly (see John 12:39)! Hmmmmm….Jesus showed up to resurrect her brother, but she warns him of the stench of what he might find? Doesn’t she know who Jesus is?
As I seek to resurrect the parts of me that have been dormant over the past 3 1/2 months–my worship, my prayer life, my private devotion, my ability to recognize God in any situation…–Will I be afraid to surrender those areas out of fear of the way they stink? Will I miss out on the opportunity to allow God to work in those areas because I am ashamed of how they look, or even how they might smell?
What about you? Are there areas of your life that you “hide” from God because you are ashamed of how they will be perceived? Let me let you in on a little secret: He already knows. I love that after Jesus raised Lazarus, he told the people to take the grave clothes off and let him go. I imagine that Jesus already knew that he had been wrapped in grave clothes. He already knew how bad he would smell after being dead for four days.
Perhaps there is a part of you that has been dead for days, months, or even years. Don’t be ashamed to give it to God and allow him to take the grave clothes off. Jesus knew the situation he was walking into, and I love that scripture doesn’t record him commenting on Lazarus’ condition. Jesus saw past the hopeless situation and brought life to it.
He is able to heal you from your past, deliver you from your hurtful experiences, and forgive you for all of your sin. He already knows how bad it is. The amazing thing about God is that he can love you through it. But you have to take the first step and respond to him. He’s calling you.
“(insert your name here), come out!”
This blog post might come across as a journal entry, rather than a devotional. I’ve been away from my blog for over 3 months—much longer than I’d intended. In addition to giving birth to my son, so much has happened since that time and I am still adjusting to life as a “stay at home mom.” A life which I believe is more appropriately termed “work at home mom” (WAHM).
And work it is. I’m never off the clock. I am available to my son’s needs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The demands of breastfeeding require me to pay closer attention to my diet, which in the past would have been the first thing I would have slacked on in order to meet other demands of life. In my son’s case, I don’t have that option.
In addition to caring for my son, I have picked up the bulk of the household chores—cooking, cleaning, etc. I made the mistake of tackling the responsibilities at home in the same fashion I managed my office in the corporate world. I’d multi-task—trying to complete a million things at once. Only at home I’ve noticed that working in this fashion does not yield wonderful results.
I even tried using the 4 tenets of management: plan, lead, control, organize. I’m convinced, however, that this has driven my husband nuts. My planning can be over the top as my perfectionist qualities set in. My leading is in direct tension with my desire for him to be the spiritual leader of the household. Control? I learned that my husband had an inkling of me trying to control him (which I was completely unaware of) and it really upset him. Organize?–Lets just say that is a work in progress.
Sigh….This has been going on for almost 4 months. And after a period of intense frustration from not being able to be as great of a WAHM as I had hoped, I just feel empty. My son and husband both have needs, and while I find great pleasure in meeting them…or at least trying to…sometimes I feel like I don’t have anything left. I went to church yesterday, and when I was asked to name one prayer request, I broke down crying. All I could say was: I feel so empty. I didn’t know how that answer would be perceived. I frankly didn’t care. All that mattered was that it was the truth. I was among friends, and thankfully, they were willing to pray for me.
I’m pondering ways to help myself become more balanced. I want to be a wonderful wife and mother, but I also want to hold onto the woman that I was before I took on those roles in my life. I am more than a wife and a mother. There is more to my story. And although home is my first ministry, there is still more for me to do. I believe that this empty feeling is related to me losing sight of who I am as a person.
There are are little more than 2 months left in 2010. I want to start 2011 off on a different foot, so I am compiling a list of things that I want to do differently….changes that I want to implement. I hope that sharing the list on here will bless you. Perhaps you are in need of making similar changes in your life.
1. Spend at least 3 hours with myself each week. I will not feel guilty for unplugging from my family and friends. This is time for me to spend time with me.
2. Be consistent in spending quiet time with God. I’m still striving for consistency, and I realize that it is going to be a challenge because my son is not yet on a regular schedule. So, I will have to sacrifice. I will get up before he and my husband awake—around the 5am hour—and get that time in. I think I’ll do a study on the “I Am” statements in both the Old and New Testaments. In this strive for balance, I need to relearn God’s ability to be everything that I need.
3. Spend at least 3 hours on the phone each week, catching up with long distance friends and family. I do not enjoy talking on the phone, but I realize that some of my closest friendships have not been cultivated as a result of this. My family is also preparing to move to Georgia in 5 months, so pretty soon the phone will be my main way of accessing my loved ones.
4. Write! Write! And write some more!
5. Make time for exercise.
I think I’ll stop there. I fear if this list gets too long that I’ll diminish my chances of committing to it.